Driving distractions— such as texting, talking on cell phones, radio tuning, grooming, eating or drinking — can divert motorists’ attention from the road and cause accidents. In 2019, there were 377 Texans killed in accidents caused by distracted driving. If you are injured in a collision with a distracted driver, you may have a basis for a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries, whether you were an occupant of another vehicle, a passenger in the distracted driver’s vehicle or a pedestrian.
How much you can recover depends on how fault for the accident is allocated. Texas has what is called a “modified comparative fault” rule. A jury determines what share of the fault for the accident belongs to each party involved and assigns a percentage to each of them. The defendant’s attorney will often try to prove that the plaintiff is partially at fault. If the jury determines that the plaintiff is up to 50 percent at fault, the court will reduce the plaintiff’s damages proportionately. If more than 50 percent at fault, the plaintiff gets nothing.
For example, suppose the plaintiff had an opportunity to avoid the accident with a distracted driver and failed to act quickly enough, or the plaintiff was a passenger of the distracted driver and didn’t complain about the distractive activity. If the jury determines that a plaintiff is entitled to $100,000 but is 25 percent liable, the judge will reduce the verdict by $25,000, leaving the plaintiff with $75,000 in damages.
So, what kind of damages can you recover in an auto accident case? As with any kind of personal injury lawsuit, damages may include:
- Your past and future medical bills
- Your lost income
- Your loss of future earning capacity
- Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of the enjoyment of life and loss of consortium
- The actual amount of damages is for the jury to decide, but the greater your injuries, the higher your damages are likely to be.
If the distracted driver’s insurer offers you a settlement right away, you may be tempted to accept it in order to avoid litigation. But that is probably a mistake, because insurance companies tend to lowball their offers to claimants without legal representation.
Your first step toward getting the recompense you deserve from a distracted driver or their insurer is to contact a good auto accident attorney. Lyons & Lyons in San Antonio, Texas has experience winning damages for victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents. For more information or to discuss whether you have a potential lawsuit against a distracted driver, call us at 210-225-5251 or contact us online.