Tennessee Code §55-8-199 makes it illegal to text and drive. Drivers who take their eyes off the road to send or receive a text and cause an accident, not only face penalties for violating Tennessee’s texting while driving law, but may have to pay damages if the car crash resulted in serious injuries or significant property damage. So, if the other driver was texting during a car accident that hurt you or your property, read on to find out what recourse you have.
Proving That the Driver Was Texting During the Car Accident
If you or your passenger witnessed the driver texting, report this to the police officer who responds to the crash scene. It is possible—but unlikely—that the driver will admit to texting before the crash happened. If the driver does not agree to texting and you or another witness did not see the driver texting, this may be hard to prove. In this instance, you may want to speak with a lawyer who knows how to investigate car accidents.
The proficient lawyers at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC investigate all aspects of car crashes and can help you obtain evidence to prove your claim of the at-fault party texting while driving.
At-Fault Drivers Pay Damages in Tennessee
Tennessee is a “fault” state concerning car accidents. Fault (versus no-fault) means that the party who caused a crash–and the party’s auto insurance company—has to pay for any damages stemming from the crash. A person’s negligent driving can also lead to criminal charges if the car crash turns fatal.
Type of Recoverable Damages In a Texting While Driving Car Accident
You can seek compensation for a variety of damages that individuals commonly suffer in car accidents. You could recover these damages for injuries when the other driver was texting during a car accident:
- Current and future medical bills
- Ambulance costs, if used
- Lost wages, if your injuries prevent you from working
- Loss of earning capacity, if you can no longer physically work as you did before the crash
- Prescription medication
- Rehabilitation costs
You may also pursue non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
The value of your injury claim will depend on the severity of your injuries and other factors. One of our motor vehicle accident attorneys can speak with you about your accident to determine the type of damages you can recover from the driver responsible for the crash.
Repercussions for the At-Fault Driver That Texted in a Tennessee Crash
When it comes to an insurance claim, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company pays for most of the damages. Although, the driver may have to pay some deductibles, depending on the insurance policy’s requirements. When police give drivers tickets or a district attorney’s office files charges, drivers have to pay the penalties out of their own pockets.
A driver who violates the texting while driving law faces a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum:
- Fifty-dollar fine
- Ten-dollar court fee
- Thirty days in jail
While the penalty, in and of itself, may not appear too costly, keep in mind that a driver faces stricter penalties if cited for failure to exercise due care.
Failure to Exercise Due Care
Under Tennessee Code §55-8-136, every driver must exercise reasonable care when operating a vehicle to avoid causing an accident. A driver breaches that duty when texting while driving. When the driver’s negligence causes an accident, that driver is held responsible for any damages sustained by others in the crash.
It gets worse if the accident involved injuries and a police officer cites the driver for failing to exercise due care under the expanded “Failure to Yield Right of Way” law. This law carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine or both. If someone dies in the accident, the driver faces a Class A misdemeanor which carries 11 months and 29 days in jail, and a maximum $2,500 fine, or both.
According to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, text messaging is the worst of all distracted driving activities because it takes a driver’s attention off the road. Drivers instead are focused on writing a text, reading a text, or manually sending a message.
Let the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril PLLC Help You Recover Compensation for Your Accident
If a texting driver hurt you and caused an accident, call us today at 865-546-1111 to schedule a free legal consultation. We can help you file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your injuries.
We work on a contingency fee basis which means you only pay us if we recover compensation in your case.