This is the third post in our series on how Austin, Texas auto accidents are impacted by distracted driving. Our last post discussed proving that the defendant in a car accident case was driving while distracted. It is important to consider how one will go about proving such conduct as the other driver is unlikely to admit to it. In this post, we will discuss another important topic – how distracted driving impacts matters involving a commercial trucking accident. It cannot be stressed enough that you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately if you have been injured by a big rig.
Several parties may be liable when an Austin resident is injured by a distracted truck driver
It is bad enough when an Austin resident is hit by someone who was texting and driving. The matter becomes far more complicated, however, when the defendant was operating a truck while texting, talking on the phone, or while otherwise distracted. This is due to the fact that several additional parties may be liable in addition to the truck driver. Owners are considered liable for the acts of their employees which occur while in the “course and scope” of employment. This means that the owner of the truck may be named as a defendant. Furthermore, if it is found that the company has a history of such incidents then the person who contracted with the trucking company may potentially be liable if they were aware of the dangerous situation. The inclusion of these additional parties makes such cases more complicated than a typical auto wreck.
A personal injury lawyer will take steps to determine whether the commercial truck driver was operating the vehicle while distracted and whether other parties are potentially liable. Such steps can include acquiring the driver’s cell phone records to determine if they were texting or speaking on the phone at the time of the accident. An attorney can also acquire the driver’s employee file and determine whether he or she had previously been reprimanded for such conduct. Also, a copy of the trucking company’s policies will be obtained; if the company does not have a written policy against such conduct then they may be found negligent.
Austin trucking accident victims may recover punitive damages if a pattern of distracted driving is shown
Trucking accident victims may be able to recover punitive damages under certain situations. Such damages are meant to “punish” a defendant for reckless conduct or blatant disregard for the safety of others. If an employer was aware that their employee was endangering others, and did nothing to correct the situation, then the employee may be found to have engaged in such a blatant disregard for the safety of others. If, for example, a commercial truck driver had previously caused an accident by talking on a cell phone while driving, and the employer did not put a policy in place prohibiting such conduct, then punitive damages may be available after additional incidents of the same conduct. It is crucial that you hire an attorney who is familiar with this area of law after you have been injured.
If you have been injured by the negligence of a distracted truck driver then contact our Austin injury lawyers today to schedule an initial consultation. We also service Travis County cities which include Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, the Williamson County cities of Georgetown, Cedar Park, and Leander, as well as other areas of Texas.