This is the third post in our series discussing pedestrian accidents which occur in the Fort Worth area. Our last post discussed how Texas’ comparative fault laws apply to pedestrian injury cases. It is important to understand that you may still be able to recover for your injuries even if you were partially responsible for the accident. In this post we will discuss another important topic – establishing liability in cases which involved a distracted driver. We cannot stress enough the fact that you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately if you or a loved one have been hit by an oncoming car.
The extent to which a driver was negligent is often disputed. Even if the driver was cited by law enforcement they are still entitled to claim that the victim of an accident was to blame, or partially to blame, for the incident. It is common for such drivers to claim that they were not engaging in distracting activity while driving. Too often, however, such people were texting, talking on the phone, or taking “selfies” while operating a vehicle. The issue of whether or not the driver was distracted can be crucial to your case – if it can be shown that the driver was not paying attention the jury may be willing to assign a greater portion, if not all, of the blame to the defendant. The legal process provides several mechanisms for determining the extent of a driver’s negligence.
Discovery is the first mechanism by which your attorney can gather evidence of the defendant’s conduct. A discovery tool known as Requests for Production allows a Plaintiff to gain records, documents, and tangible items from another party. In a pedestrian accident case your attorney will likely use these requests to gain the defendant’s cell phone records, email correspondence, etc. as such items will show if the defendant was texting while driving, composing email while behind the wheel, or engaging in other such behavior. The defendant does not have an option once such a request is made by your counsel; the records must be provided. If they refuse to do so then they may face sanctions from the Court.
Investigation is the second method by which your lawyer can gain proof of a defendant’s distracted driving. If there were witnesses to the accident then they may be able to state what type of conduct the driver was engaging in. Such witnesses can include passengers in the defendant’s car as well as drivers in surrounding cars who provided their contact information after an accident. Counsel can also peruse the social media accounts of the defendant to see if they were tweeting, updating Facebook, or engaging in similar conduct at the time of the accident. Gathering evidence of distracted driving can be time consuming, resource intensive, and often requires a knowledge of the legal process. It is not suggested that one attempt to handle a pedestrian accident case themselves.
When selecting an attorney to handle a serious injury it is important that you select counsel who primarily handles such matters and has substantial experience in doing so. We would suggest that you determine whether the attorneys are board certified and whether the firm employs a full time investigator. Finally, you should hire a firm that is large enough to advance court costs and whether the office can devote multiple attorneys to your case. This is true whether you were injured in counties including Tarrant, Dallas, Johnson, and Wise as well as Fort Worth, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Watauga, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Arlington, Keller, Grand Prairie, and Dallas.