Starting and Ending a Distracted Driving Wreck Claim
Distraction at work or home is a way of life. A friend once claimed that she could simultaneously feed her infant, pour a glass of milk, cook dinner, talk on the phone, and yell at her older kids. Knowing her, that claim is probably true. Distraction behind the wheel is deadly. Operator distraction causes about a tenth of the fatal motor vehicle collisions in Texas. Considering how many people die on Texas roads every year, and how easy it is for a driver to simply watch the road, that’s a chilling statistic.
The dangers of distracted driving are well documented. Therefore, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who don’t watch the road and concentrate on driving know they’re putting other people at risk. So, a Sugar Land distracted driving lawyer can usually obtain maximum compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Starting a Claim
Circumstantial evidence in the vehicle, along with the low burden of proof in a civil claim, often firmly establishes the basic elements of a negligence case. These cases are usually strong enough to withstand comparative fault and other common insurance company defenses.
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. A Missouri City personal injury attorney must first take a step back and determine what kind of distraction caused the crash. The three major kinds of operator distraction are:
- Visual (eyes off the road),
- Cognitive (mind off driving), and
- Manual (hand off the wheel).
Hand-held devices combine all three forms of distracted driving. Hands-free devices aren’t much safer. In fact, driving drunk and using a hands-free device while driving are equally as dangerous.
A device in the passenger area is circumstantial evidence of distraction. So are items like soda cans and food wrappers.
A little evidence goes a long way. The burden of proof in a civil claim is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). If a personal injury attorney’s investigators find a hands-free device mount in the car, it’s more likely than not that the tortfeasor was using the device at the time of the wreck.
The device itself provides additional circumstantial evidence. Typically, this log indicates if the tortfeasor was on the phone for several seconds or several blocks. That evidence could be the difference between settling for less and maximum compensation.
Attorneys must act quickly to preserve this evidence before a tortfeasor, or the tortfeasor’s insurance company, “accidentally” removes or destroys it.
Ending a Claim
Once medical treatment is at least substantially complete, settlement negotiations usually begin. These negotiations resolve about 95 percent of the injury claims in Texas.
Informal negotiations occasionally bear fruit. That’s especially true if liability issues and damage issues are clear. We outlined liability issues above. Damage issues usually involve the extent of injury and the reasonableness of the medical bills. If victims don’t immediately see doctors, insurance company lawyers typically claim they’re exaggerating their injuries. If an insurance company-paid doctor disagrees with the treatment plan, insurance company lawyers often claim the treatment was unreasonable.
Because of these problems, most personal injury claims settle during mediation. During these formal talks, both sides have a legal duty to set aside petty differences and make a good faith effort to settle the case.
Rely on a Savvy Fort Bend County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Missouri City, contact the Henrietta Ezeoke Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.