Texting & Driving Laws in Virginia
There are excellent reasons why states like Virginia prohibit distracted driving. Distracted driving on mobile devices causes thousands of crashes in Virginia every year. Texting and driving laws are designed to discourage risking lives for the sake of a text or phone call.
If you have been injured in an auto accident and know or suspect the driver who caused the crash was distracted by their phone at the time, you may need evidence to prove their liability. Proving that the other driver was texting while driving is not always easy. The driver and their insurance company will do what they can to keep you from proving liability. That is where Blaszkow Legal, PLLC can help.
As personal injury attorneys, we have been helping clients in Alexandria, Fairfax, Woodbridge, Arlington, and Manassas, Virginia, prove distracted driving liability for our injured clients for more than 35 years.
Can You Text While Driving in Virginia?
For the most part, you cannot text while driving in Virginia. That is because state law specifically prohibits using a handheld device while operating a motor vehicle. This means a driver can use voice-to-text or make voice calls on a hands-free device, but they cannot do either while holding the phone.
There are exceptions to the prohibition of using a handheld device. Emergency and law enforcement personnel are permitted to use them in the course of their duties. Also, a driver parked and pulled off the roadway can use a handheld device.
What Should I Do if I Was Hit by a Texting Driver?
If you are involved in a car accident involving a texting driver, you should file a personal injury claim, a property damage claim, or both against that driver’s auto insurance liability coverage. Virginia is a fault state for auto insurance, and every auto owner is required to carry at least the minimum amount of liability coverage.
The good news is that in fault states like Virginia, a driver who causes an accident due to their negligence bears financial responsibility for the damages incurred by those they injure and the property they damage.
The bad news is that Virginia recognizes contributory negligence as well. If you are assigned any percentage of fault for the accident, you are prohibited from pursuing compensation from the driver more at fault. Therefore, if the other driver and their insurer can prove you bore even 1% of fault to the other driver’s 99%, you cannot recover compensation from them. This is why proving the other driver was distracted is crucial.
How Can I Prove the Other Driver Was Distracted?
Proving liability of texting and driving may take different forms. For example, the distracted driver may admit to texting in the aftermath of the accident. They may tell the law enforcement officer investigating the crash that they were texting. If the driver only says that to you but not to anyone else, you need to make sure you tell the officer what the driver told you so it can become part of the official crash report.
Since drivers know using a handheld device while driving is a violation of Virginia law, they often will not voluntarily admit to it and will, in fact, deny it at every opportunity. In that case, you and your car accident attorney will need to explore other options.
Your attorney can seek video footage at or near the scene (from traffic cameras or business or residential security cameras) that may show the driver using a handheld device. There may also have been witnesses who stated they saw the driver texting at the time of the crash. Witness statements may be included in the crash report. Moreover, witnesses may be asked by the driver’s insurance company’s attorneys to testify to what they saw under oath in a deposition or on the witness stand.
Finally, your attorney can request a subpoena from the court to obtain copies of the driver’s phone records. Although the content of texts does not appear in phone records, the time of calls and texts do. You should know that you can only subpoena phone records as part of the discovery process in a civil lawsuit filed against the texting driver.
Knowledgeable Legal Advocacy
At Blaszkow Legal, PLLC, we know how to fully investigate the circumstances of a crash to gather the evidence necessary to prove liability so you can obtain the compensation that you are entitled to. We do this under any circumstances, including when our clients know or suspect the negligent driver was texting and driving. This can be a challenge, but one we welcome in order to help our clients recover compensation for their damages.
If you have been injured by a texting driver in Alexandria, Virginia, or the surrounding areas, call Blaszkow Legal, PLLC now to schedule a free case consultation.