The person who hit me was texting while driving. Is there a law in Texas against texting and driving?
Negligence per se is a legal action used in tort claims. “Per se” means “as a matter of law”. This type of action occurs when someone breaks a law or city ordinance that is meant to prevent injury.
Texas does not have a state law that prohibits texting while driving. The state does urge drivers to pull over when using their cell phones. Even though Texas does not have a law, over 60 Texas cities do. The bans on cell phone use vary, depending on the city ordinance. For example:
- Some don’t allow it for six months by those with learner permits;
- Some don’t allow it for those under 18 years of age;
- Some don’t allow it in school zones; and
- Some don’t allow it for school bus drivers when children are on the bus.
In cities that do not have a ban, any injuries caused by texting while driving will fall under ordinary negligence. This means that the person did not do what a reasonable person would do.
For example, Austin has an ordinance that bans texting and driving. If a driver causes an accident while texting and driving, he could be guilty of negligence per se. The ordinance sets out the type of behavior that was likely to cause injury to others. If that same driver causes an accident and there is no law or ordinance against texting, he may only be liable for ordinary negligence.
If you are injured by a driver as a result of texting in a city with a texting ordinance, you may sue for negligence per se. In that case, proving the driver caused your injury is not hard. The court will look at whether the driver violated the ordinance. The court will also look at whether that violation caused your injury. If the court finds those two things to be true, you will most likely win your lawsuit. If you are injured in a city without an ordinance, you will need to prove that the person did not act as a reasonable person would have.