Texting While Driving – A Preventable Problem. If you drive regularly, chances are you’ve found yourself in the situation where you’re driving behind or alongside another vehicle, when suddenly the driver jerks to the side. Or maybe they quickly start drifting out of their lane, rapidly decelerate, tap on their brakes lightly every few miles, or otherwise start driving incredibly erratically.
Then when you’ve finally had enough and pass the driver, you glare at them to give them the classic “look of shame,” but to no avail–you see their eyes glued to their phone, held nonchalantly in one hand or in their lap while their other hand limply clings to the steering wheel.
It may not seem like a big deal to answer a quick text while on the road, but the damage that could result from being distracted while driving is catastrophic. 25% of car accidents in the United States are caused by texting while driving, and texting is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
Although most drivers are fully aware of the dangers of texting while driving, many of them admit to doing it anyway. And unfortunately, there have been numerous cases where people have been seriously injured or even killed due to this incredibly unsafe and negligent bad habit.
Five Seconds – Longer than you Think
The United States Department of Transportation estimates that it takes five seconds on average to read a text message. It’s often said that, in five short seconds, a car can travel the length of an entire football field when moving at speeds of 55 MPH or higher. That was the speed limit on Highway 83 in Ennis, Texas when Jamie Nash got into an accident that changed her life forever.
Nash says she doesn’t even remember sending the text, and that the accident had felt like it happened in a split second–but in the time spent looking at her phone, her car had already drifted significantly off course; she struck a culvert, the resulting impact launching her vehicle into the air.
The car flipped multiple times before landing against a tree and the explosive force from this violent collision caused the car to catch fire. The young mother was trapped in the vehicle for 20 minutes as it burned. Though she ultimately survived this horrifying ordeal, she was unfortunately left with 3rd and 4th degree burns over 70% of her body.
Nash is lucky she didn’t hurt anyone else during her momentary lapse of judgment but the same cannot be said for all distracted drivers. In recent months, companies have been increasingly relying on delivery drivers to meet harsh deadlines.
In January 2022, Amazon was sued when a delivery driver in a rented Hertz truck struck and seriously injured a motorcyclist in Virginia Beach. The motorcyclist had to undergo amputation for his leg as a result of the collision, and the delivery driver admitted to being distracted by the Amazon GPS guidance system in the Amazon Flex app.
Luckily, the motorcyclist obtained legal counsel and was able to file a $100M claim against Amazon alleging that the app “micromanaged” the drivers by telling them the exact routes to take, dictating when they were allowed to take breaks, and sending notifications when they were supposed to return to the station. These strict directions and frequent notifications rendered the app a serious distraction.
The Legal Aspect
Texting while driving is illegal in 47 states including Texas, and cell phone usage during a crash can be easily confirmed when inspecting a phone’s metadata. Violations of this law can result in penalties and fines along with jail time if someone is seriously injured or killed due to distracted driving.
If you are the victim of personal injury resulting from distracted driving, you have a pretty strong case for full financial compensation for medical bills or damages as long as you weren’t partially responsible for the crash in some way. This falls under Texas’ comparative fault law for car accidents. Additionally, since these are considered civil cases, the statute of limitations to file is two years from the date of the accident. Finally, if you get hit by a delivery driver working for a separate company, you may be able to sue the company under the theory of respondeat superior–this means that when the accident occurred, the employee driver was working within the scope of their employment, therefore, their employer is responsible as well.
Distracted drivers pose a serious threat to everyone else on the road, and texting while driving is a completely unnecessary practice that can result in some pretty devastating accidents. If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, give the Dr. Shezad Malik Law Offices a call at 214-390-3189 and we’ll get you started on your way to peace of mind and fair compensation.
Shezad Malik is an Internal Medicine and Cardiology specialist, a Texas Medical Doctor (retired) and Defective Medical Device and Dangerous Drug Attorney. Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm has offices based in Fort Worth and Dallas and represents people who have suffered catastrophic and serious personal injuries including wrongful death, caused by the negligence or recklessness of others.