WANT A FREE BIKE? ENTER TODAY FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN. ENTER HERE

New distracted driving laws

Apr 16, 2021 | Auto Accidents

On January 21, 2021, Virginia became one of the only states in the country with a comprehensive distracted driving law. It is now illegal for drivers to hold and use a cell phone in the Old Dominion. The previous law had very limited applicability.

 

Hand-held devices combine all three forms of distracted driving: (1) these operators take their eyes off the road (visual distraction); (2) they take a hand off the wheel (manual distraction); and (3) they take their minds off driving (cognitive distraction). However, as outlined below, other distractions are often just as serious.

 

The law also muddied the waters in terms of injury claims. Many people are unsure of their rights. Even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) did not violate the cell phone law, a Richmond accident lawyer can still obtain compensation for these car crash victims.

Device Distraction and Negligence Per Se

 

If a driver violates the new cell phone law and causes a crash, that driver may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. The negligence per se doctrine usually applies if the tortfeasor violated a safety law and the victim is of the class the law was designed to protect. 

 

These cases are not just easier for Richmond personal injury attorneys to prove. Since these drivers arguably ignore the safety of others, jurors often award substantial verdicts in these situations. These verdicts usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

 

However, even if a driver was using a hand-held phone, many emergency responders do not issue tickets. Generally, responders arrive at crash scenes after the fact. If they did not see the tortfeasor using a phone, these charges often do not hold up in court. So, from this perspective, writing a ticket may be a waste of resources.

 

Furthermore, many responders do not issue tickets after accidents as a matter of departmental or personal policy. Many police officers view car crashes as civil disputes, and they do not want to get involved.

Ordinary Negligence

 

If emergency responders do not issue a cell phone ticket, the ordinary negligence doctrine usually applies. In this context, ordinary negligence is usually a lack of reasonable care. The law holds commercial operators, like Uber drivers and truck drivers, to a higher standard.

 

This rule also comes into play if a hands-free device distracted the motorist and caused a crash. Considerable evidence indicates that hands-free phones are worse than hand-held phones. Hands-free devices are visually and cognitively distracting. Additionally, these gadgets give many drivers a false sense of security. So, they often take unnecessary risks behind the wheel.

 

In these claims, victim/plaintiffs must prove negligence, which again is a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Evidence in these claims includes:

 

  • Erratic driving before the crash
  • Device use logs
  • Witness statements
  • Presence of a phone near the driver
  • Tortfeasor’s statements about device use

 

A preponderance of the evidence is the lowest burden of evidence in Virginia law. So, a little bit of this evidence goes a long way.

 

Device use logs are often the most compelling bit of evidence. An attorney must act quickly to preserve them. Frequently, people “accidentally” delete these logs. Deleted logs are still buried on the device’s hard drive. But it’s more expensive and time-consuming to extract them.

 

It’s much easier to send a spoliation letter. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all possible physical evidence for trial. Spoliation letters also preserve other electronic evidence, like a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. An EDR is basically like a black box flight data recorder.

Victim of an Auto Accident? Learn More with a Free Consultation

 

Distracted driver crash victims usually have multiple legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Richmond, contact Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 866-369-9051.

FREE CONSULTATION

No Fees Unless We Win





    If Someone Runs a Red Light, Can They Be Sued in Virginia?

    Ignoring a traffic control device, such as a red light, is a clear violation of Virginia law and puts other drivers at risk of an auto accident and grave losses. Therefore, assuming emergency responders issue a citation for the incident, the negligence per se doctrine...

    Who Is at Fault in a Lane-Splitting Accident in Virginia?

      Rather than sit in traffic, motorcycle riders straddle the dotted lines between the lanes on multi-lane roads. This is known as lane-splitting. A legislative measure to legalize lane-splitting, a practice also known as lane filtering, died in committee in 2020....

    Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney if I Was Rear-Ended in Virginia?

    These collisions have the potential to cause some pretty serious injuries, some may even be long-lasting or permanent. Furthermore, rear-end wrecks usually involve very complicated legal questions. Issues like legal responsibility and insurance requirements can muddy...

    What Happens When Someone Hits You Without Insurance in Virginia?

      No one wants to be in a car accident, and the damages can be catastrophic. You could be facing severe injuries, a wrecked car, and you might not be able to work for an extended period of time.   If the accident wasn’t your fault, you would naturally assume that...

    Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney if I was Rear Ended?

    In most cases, fault is automatically assigned to a driver who rear-ended someone. After all, being rear-ended is something you have no control over. Most likely, the other driver was following too closely, or they weren’t paying attention.   We’ve been told that it’s...

    Our Case Results

    $4,700,000
    Industrial Plant Accident

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Jeffrey A. Breit and Justin M. Sheldon Our client was killed in an industrial accident when an unauthorized worker was operating an overhead crane and pinned our client between…

    $1,750,000
    Rear-End Crash

    Our client suffered a traumatic brain injury, facial trauma, a dislocated hip and severe abdominal trauma when she was rear-ended at a traffic light by a tractor trailer. Suit was commenced shortly after…

    $1,250,000
    Assault of Log Truck Driver

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Geoffrey R. McDonald, Frank H. Hupfl, Justin M. Sheldon.
    Our client suffered a traumatic brain injury after being assaulted and knocked to the ground while fueling his logging…

    $860,000
    Drunk Driving Crash

    Our client suffered neck/head trauma and a broken wrist after his vehicle was struck by a drunk driver while he was stopped at a traffic light. Upon rejection of a settlement offer of $325,000, our litigation…

    $700,000
    Rear-End Collision

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Justin M. Sheldon and Geoff R. McDonald, Richmond
    GMA’s client was injured as a result of a rear-end collision in the greater Richmond area. The crash occurred a little after…

    Client Reviews

    Cheryl and Rich were wonderful and patient with me throughout the case. All of my questions were answered. They really helped me through this tough time and made sure to let me know what was going on. I really thank Geoff…

    Troy Saxby

    My experience with GMA staff was first rate. They always represented in a professional way and made sure I had everything as far as paperwork. Kara and Theo made sure to answer all my questions, was always available and so…

    Shirley Brown

    Geoff McDonald & Associates is the team that you want on the field if you’re in need of top notch legal defense! Mr. Taj Henley demonstrated true customer service skills and his expertise made me feel comfortable throughout the…

    Julian Reeves

    Geoff McDonald & Associates: Thank you Taj Henley for all of your hard work and dedication! Very expeditious in my case and I was very satisfied with my settlement. Will recommend to all my friends and family!

    Shareema Williams

    Geoff is number one in my book and I especially appreciate the support of Mr Henley

    Ebony Conwell

    I was so pleased with the knowledge and support from Mr. Taj Henley

    Kideem Frierson

    Thank you Geoff McDonald &Associates. A special thank you to Mr. Taj Henley

    Denise Conwell

    Mr. Taj Henley displays exceptional professionalism for Geoff McDonald & Associates, along with commendable communication skills and customer service. By his work ethic and commitment to the people he serves his value to any…

    Justin Fitzgerald