THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM PROVIDES PASSIONATE AND AGGRESSIVE REPRESENTATION FOR ACCIDENT VICTIMS OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA LOW COUNTRY.
At an alarmingly increasing rate, I am presented with clients that have been injured by an individual who texting while driving. The fact pattern is almost always the same. My client was stopped at a traffic signal or stopped in a line of traffic, only to be plowed into the rear by a driver who was to busy texting on their cell phone to pay attention to traffic. In this article, we will specifically discuss what damages an injured party would be allowed to recover if they are injured by someone who is driving while texting.
SOUTH CAROLINA LAW ON TEXTING WHILE DRIVING
South Carolina law currently makes the act of executing a "text-based communication" on a “wireless electronic communication device” while driving illegal. That seems like such a simple statement but let's breakdown the actual text of the law.
First of all, lets look at what is not covered in the current law. The law does not ban the use of communication devices while driving for phone calls or even watching a video stream. The law is specifically limited just to "text based communication." The law enters a gray area in its current state when, lets say, a driver is using the phone for location data and GPS services. Additionally, the law does not apply when the driver is stopped, or parked, or using a hands free device. The law also does not apply when the driver is using the device to summons emergency help (911).
The statute defines a "text based communication" as a text message, an SMS message, an instant message or an email. The statute then goes on to define a "wireless electronic communication device" as including a telephone, personal digital assistant, text-messaging device, or computer that lets someone wirelessly communicate with another.
There are changes on the horizon to the current state of the law that will most likely pass the South Carolina Legislature sometime in 2020. The current law has created an enforcement nightmare for law enforcement officers with its limitations to just "text-based communication." The proposed changes that will be included in the new legislation will create a more uniform rule that will ban any use of the hand held device for any purpose (texting, phone calls, video streaming) while driving.
TEXTING WHILE DRIVING AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES
South Carolina law allows for the award of punitive damages under any circumstance where the at-fault driver has committed a willful, wanton, or reckless act causing injury or acts in violation of a statute. Texting while driving of course would fall into both of these categories as applied to South Carolina law. Despite what I would call a settled state of the law on texting while driving, insurance companies still fight the application punitive damages in cases where "texting while driving" is alleged and proved. On a side note, it is encouraging to see that juries statewide in South Carolina are awarding punitive damages in cases involving "texting while driving." To the public at large, and by proxy juries, texting while driving is being punished by citizens with the same zeal and vigor as drinking and driving. My professional guess is that the underlying theme from juries, once we are beyond the legal arguments, is that texting and driving incidents are pretty much 100% preventable, just like drinking and driving incidents and are solely occurring only because of the indifference of the offenders.
HOW TO PROVE IF SOMEONE IS TEXTING WHILE DRIVING
The critical component in any punitive damages claim involving is proving that the at-fault party was actually texting while driving. The most obvious way to prove this is by witness observation and testimony. Did you see the driver that hit you on the phone or looking down when the accident occurred. Did the other driver admit they were texting after the accident, either in conversation with you or with the responding officer. In one recent case I worked, my client was rear ended while stopped for a flagman in a construction zone and the flagman informed the responding officer that he could see the at-fault driver looking down in the immediate moments prior to the accident. Of course if settlement discussions fail and a lawsuit is filed, then I will always subpoena the cell phone usage records of the at-fault driver, which of course will break down to the second when and how the cell phone was being used in the period of time leading up to and during the accident. I also summarily check social media posts that were made by the at-fault driver near the time of the accident.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM
DEDICATED TO SERVING FAMILIES ACCIDENT VICTIMS IN CHARLESTON, MOUNT PLEASANT, AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
As an attorney with experience in car accidents involving texting drivers, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and earn just compensation for you and your loved ones due to an unfortunate set of events. Through my efforts, I can bring about much needed financial relief to victims of these reckless drivers. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case.
Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent or reckless acts of another in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306