Distracted driving is a growing problem across the United States and in Oklahoma in particular. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2,841 people died from distracted driving accidents nationwide in a single recent year.
Closer to home, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reports that 1,335 drivers were injured in crashes where distracted driving was a major factor. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office also noted that distracted driving disproportionately impacted younger drivers, with 464 distracted drivers age 16-24 killed or injured in car crashes in just one year.
Though it’s not the only source of driver distractions, texting while driving is one of the most common ways in which a driver can be distracted. If you’ve been injured in a texting car accident in Oklahoma, you should speak to an attorney right away.
The Oklahoma car accident lawyers at Ryan, Bisher, Ryan & Simons have been helping people put their lives back together after crashes for more than 30 years. Our firm focuses solely on personal injury cases so we can give you the one-on-one attention you deserve.
When you’re ready to get started on your texting while driving accident case, call our office at or visit our contact page for your free initial consultation.
Why Texting While Driving Is So Dangerous
Texting while driving is a form of distracted driving, and as we’ve already discussed, distracted driving kills thousands of people every year. But why is texting while driving so much more dangerous than other kinds of distractions? Put simply, it’s because texting while driving includes more than one type of distraction that may disrupt a driver’s attention.
Traffic safety advocates say there are three different kinds of distractions that can happen to a driver. They are:
- Visual distractions – These occur when something causes a driver to take their eyes off the road. A driver’s focus should always be on the road in front of them and any other vehicles in their immediate surroundings. For example, if a driver looks down to grab a bite to eat or take a drink, they may not see a car that unexpectedly turned into their path from a nearby intersection.
- Manual distractions – These occur when a driver takes one or both hands off the steering wheel for some reason. Drivers need both hands on the wheel at all times so they can react quickly and safely in the event of an emergency. As an example, if you’re adjusting the volume or the music in your car with one hand, you may not have enough control to avoid a sudden hazard on the road.
- Cognitive distractions – These occur when something takes a driver’s mental focus away from the task of driving. Drivers need to be alert and aware of their surroundings to keep themselves and passengers safe. If a driver is, for example, daydreaming or talking to others in the car, they’re not paying attention to the road and may not register an obstacle in their path until it’s too late.
What makes texting while driving so dangerous is that it involves all three categories of distractions. When someone reads or writes a text while driving, they’re looking down at their phone instead of watching the road, they’re taking one hand off the wheel, and their focus is on their phone instead of where they’re going.
This is a recipe for disaster. At 55 mph, a driver who takes 5 seconds to read a text will travel the length of a football field by the time they look up again – which is easily enough time and space for a serious car accident to occur.
Types of Texting and Driving Accident Injuries
The injuries from texting and driving accidents are often more severe than what you might see in other types of car accidents. This is because when drivers aren’t paying attention, they don’t have the time to apply the brakes or try to steer away from an imminent collision.
Some of the most common injuries from texting while driving accidents include:
- Serious lacerations and bruises
- Broken bones
- Damage to soft tissues (internal organs, muscles, ligaments and tendons, etc.)
- Neck and back injuries
- Severed or crushed limbs
Oklahoma Law on Texting Behind the Wheel
According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, it is illegal to text while driving. It’s a secondary offense, with a potential fine of up to $100. Commercial drivers face additional restrictions, as they are not allowed to text while driving or use their phones to make a call while driving.
There are a few exceptions to the texting-while-driving law. First, texting while driving is allowed for devices that are physically or electronically integrated into a vehicle, as well as hands-free devices and voice-operated navigation devices. Second, texting while driving is allowed if a driver needs to communicate with emergency responders.
Liability for Crashes Caused by Texting Drivers
The law does not look kindly on motorists who text while driving. Drivers who are distracted by texting and cause an accident have broken the rules of the road and may be held liable for any injuries they might have caused.
The tricky part of pursuing an insurance claim or lawsuit against someone who was texting while driving is proving your claim. Unless you or someone else witnessed the offending driver using their phone in the moments leading up to the crash, it can be difficult to show how the driver was distracted.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you find the proof to support your claim against the offending driver. Cellphone records, police reports, witness statements, surveillance footage, and other evidence can all help substantiate your claim.
Once you have established liability in an accident claim against the at-fault driver, you can pursue compensation for any damages you suffered in the motor vehicle accident. Some of the things you could be compensated for after a texting while driving accident include:
- Your past and future medical bills
- Your lost wages while you recovered from the accident
- Your reduced ability to earn a living, depending on the extent of your injuries
- The value of any property that was damaged or destroyed in the crash
- Your physical pain and suffering
- Any mental or emotional pain you’ve suffered from the accident
- Loss of consortium (the legal term for losing the physical and emotional support of a loved one)
There’s one other critical factor to note when it comes to liability for car accidents in Oklahoma. Under the state’s comparative negligence doctrine, a driver cannot recover compensation for losses in a car accident if they bear 50 percent or more of the responsibility for causing the crash. If the driver bears some responsibility for the crash, their damages award will be reduced according to their percentage of fault, as long as that percentage is less than 50 percent.
What Do I Do If I Have Been Hurt in a Texting and Driving Accident?
Here’s what you need to do if you’re injured in a texting and driving accident:
- Call 911 immediately. If you’ve been injured, you need to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible, and there may be others who need medical attention as well. Calling 911 will also bring the police to the scene so they can begin investigating the crash. The police may issue a citation for fault after their investigation is complete, which can help when you file a claim against the other driver.
- Take lots of pictures. Until you’re seen by a doctor and have your medical records, pictures are your best evidence in a car accident. Take photos of the crash scene, the damage to all vehicles involved, your injuries, the injuries sustained by anyone else in your vehicle, nearby road signs, any nearby surveillance cameras, and so on.
- Save all your medical records and receipts. Your medical records will help substantiate your claim against the other driver, and you’ll need the receipts to help document your financial losses when it’s time to claim your rightful compensation.
- Stay away from social media. The less you say after an accident, the better. The opposing driver and their agents will take whatever opportunity they can to portray you in a bad light and shift blame for the accident. Don’t give them any opportunity to do so.
- Call an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can outline your legal options for you, help you gather evidence for your claim, handle all necessary communication with the at-fault driver, and prepare your case for trial if a settlement can’t be reached.
Get Help from Our Distracted Driving Attorneys in Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma law gives car accident victims only two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If the time limit passes, you will almost certainly have no legal remedy to claim the compensation that you’re entitled to. That’s why it’s important to act quickly in texting and driving cases.
Get your initial case review today by calling us or visiting our contact page.Get Started