Driver looking at cell phone

Distracted Driving and Head Injuries

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

Under Texas law, victims of personal injury accidents have a right to bring a lawsuit against the person who caused their injuries for damages. Distracted driving and negligence can lead to serious accidents, and the resulting head injuries can be severe and diverse. Some potential head injuries include:

  • Concussion: This is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a  blow or jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating a change in brain chemistry, which can sometimes damage brain cells.
  • Contusion: A contusion is a bruise of the brain tissue. Contusions can occur when there is a sudden blow or a shaking force to the brain and the brain is rocked back and forth inside the skull as a result.
  • Coup-Contrecoup Injury: A coup injury is associated with a moving object impacting a stationery head, whereas a contrecoup injury classically occurs when the moving head (brain) strikes a stationary object. Therefore, what is referred to as a coup-contrecoup injury occurs when the force impacting the head is not only strong enough to cause a contusion at the site of impact but the extreme force also causes it to slam into the opposite side of the skull,  leading to an additional contusion.
  • Skull Fracture: The skull is meant to protect the brain, but severe impacts can cause it to break.
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage: This is bleeding within the skull, often from a blood vessel rupturing during a severe head injury.
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury: This type of injury can be particularly devastating, as it involves widespread damage to the brain’s white matter. It’s often caused by strong rotation or shaking forces.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): TBI is a broader term that refers to any injury to the brain that could impact a person’s cognitive, physical, and emotional functions. All the above-mentioned injuries are types of TBI.

It’s important to note that not all these injuries may be immediately obvious following a car accident, and sometimes symptoms can develop over time. That’s why it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention after any car accident, even if you don’t initially feel hurt.

Texas law allows individuals who have suffered head injuries due to negligent drivers to make personal injury claims. Here is the process you might expect to go through:

  • Gather Evidence: First and foremost, you will need to gather evidence demonstrating how the driver was negligent. This can include police reports, eyewitness accounts, video footage, and any other evidence that can support your claim.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Immediately seek medical attention, even if you don’t think you’ve been severely injured. It is essential to establish a medical record that connects your injury with the accident.
  • Engage a Personal Injury Lawyer: It’s crucial to hire a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in dealing with head injury cases. They can help you gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and if necessary, represent you in court.
  • Filing a Claim: Your attorney will help you file a personal injury claim against the negligent driver. This claim will include the facts of the case, the injuries you have suffered, and the compensation you are seeking. Remember that you will need to establish the other driver’s negligence in the accident. In this case, you would have to show that the driver was distracted and that this distraction directly led to your injuries. This can be complex, so it’s often best to work with a lawyer experienced in distracted driving cases.
  • Negotiating a Settlement: Most personal injury cases in Texas are resolved through settlement negotiations. Your lawyer will negotiate with the negligent party’s insurance company on your behalf.
  • Going to Trial: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your case may go to trial. A judge or jury will then decide whether the other driver was negligent and, if so, the amount of compensation you should receive.

Under Texas law, you typically have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit (this is the statute of limitations). However, there might be exceptions depending on specific case circumstances, so always consult with a lawyer to understand your rights and timelines better.

Keep in mind that Texas operates under a modified comparative negligence system, which means that if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced proportionally. For example, you can recover compensation for a personal injury for which you are partially at fault unless your percentage of fault is greater than the percentage that’s not your fault. This is also known as the 51% rule – if you are 51% or more at fault for the accident, you will be unable to get compensation.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to distracted driving and negligence, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. Our legal team has the resources to thoroughly investigate your claim and develop an effective strategy on your behalf, all while protecting your rights. Contact Ceja Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your case.

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.