The rules of the road and the laws that govern traffic are different in each state. When drivers violate the rules, they can cause crashes, and victims should discuss their rights with a car accident lawyer.
Over the last several decades, many states have implemented stricter regulations for risky and distracted driving due to an increase in crashes. Therefore, the use of electronic devices while driving can be a topic of debate.
In the U.S., several states make it illegal to drive when wearing earbuds or headphones. So, what is the law in Texas?
You may find it surprising that wearing headphones is permissible in Texas when you’re behind the wheel of a car. However, you need to behave responsibly. Otherwise, you might break one of the state’s codes – laws that may be used to prove a wanton disregard for other people’s safety.
If you’re found guilty of driving recklessly, you could be assessed a fine or even spend time in jail.
So, if you’re listening to music through headphones, and it causes you to become distracted, you might be found guilty of negligence.
While most distracted driving laws pertaining to texting while driving, the law can still relate to headphone use – especially if the driver ends up hitting another vehicle or damaging private or public property.
According to researchers, a person who listens to music via headphones responds about 4 seconds slower than people who do not wear the devices. One scientist added that using headphones while driving blocks out sounds that can potentially place people in danger.
As a result, if you wear headphones, you might not be able to hear an approaching emergency vehicle. This may cause you to fail to yield appropriately. You may also not notice mechanical issues, which can lead to an accident as well.
If you happen to get involved in an accident with a driver wearing headphones, you may be able to sue for negligence. To make this claim, you need to show that the driver owed you a duty of care – one that involved operating their vehicle safely. You also must prove that their neglect led to your injuries. As a result, they owe you form damages in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, and/or pain and suffering.
If a driver’s use of headphones led to their negligence, you can bring up this factor when recounting the circumstances of an accident.
Indeed, it is important that drivers in Texas make sure that their use of headphones does not lead to a problem with negligence. An attorney who regularly handles auto accident claims can help you assess your options so you can see where you stand legally. They can serve as a guide through the litigation process to maximize the financial compensation you’re able to receive.
Violating the Law While Wearing Headphones
If you are pulled over for a driving violation while you are wearing headphones, you could be charged with reckless driving.
Texas Transportation Code § 545.401 defines reckless driving as the intentional disregard for the safety of other persons and property. You could end up with a $200 fine, 30 days in jail, or both.
Even if the other driver is responsible for causing the accident, the insurance company will be more inclined to deny your claim if you were wearing headphones.
Wearing headphones while driving is never a good idea. Since Texas law requires the negligent party’s insurance to pay damages, you want to avoid doing anything that can be used against you.
If the insurance company determines that you are at fault for an accident, and the other driver’s injuries and vehicle repairs exceed your policy limits, you may be forced to pay the remainder out-of-pocket.
The insurer processing your claim may use a few tactics to deny or underpay your claim:
The insurance company may also try to find inconsistencies in your recounting of the events to discredit you. For example, any minor discrepancy regarding the volume of your headphones while you were driving can have a major impact on your claim.
An insurance adjuster may ask you to provide a recorded statement about the nature of the injuries. The adjuster may form questions in a way to mitigate the extent of your injuries. If your testimony makes you sound less injured, then the insurer will be able to pay less on your claim.
An insurance adjuster is trying to pay out as little as possible on your claim in order to save the insurance company money.
A claims adjuster may dodge your calls regarding the status of your claim. If a claims adjuster tells you that they need to check with their supervisor regarding an issue, you should ask them by which date you should expect to hear back from them.
The insurance company knows that your medical expenses are piling up. Factor in missed paychecks and your routine bills, and after a few weeks, you will be desperate for some cash. Even a smaller amount of money than you deserve.
The claims adjuster figures that if they stall long enough, then you will most likely accept a low settlement offer. If you have failed to hire an attorney, they are probably right.
After an accident, the insurance company may request that you sign a medical authorization releasing your health information.
By allowing an insurance adjuster access to your medical records, he or she will have your entire medical history at their fingertips. The adjuster may blame your current pain on a pre-existing condition, arguing that the accident was not the cause.
It is important that you don’t sign a release form (or anything!) until you first speak with an Austin car accident lawyer.
While a driver in Texas might not get a ticket or get pulled over for driving with headphones, they may be liable if their use of the accessory leads to a personal injury collision. If you’re an auto accident victim, contact TK Injury Lawyers without delay. Call the law firm at (512) 910-2000 to discuss your claim today.
Trent Kelly obtained his law degree from the University of Arkansas in 2007. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and regularly assists clients with their legal matters. Trent’s practice is primarily focused on personal injury matters – particularly those involving motor vehicles (such as cars, commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and motorcycles) and wrongful death – but he also handles various business litigation matters as well. Click here to take a look at some complex cases Trent has resolved.
Years of experience: +15 years
Location: Austin, TX
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