Recent changes in Virginia law affect the practice of Virginia personal injury lawyers. On July 1, 2014, a new Virginia law made it a primary offense to text while driving. Although this is a change to laws governing motor vehicle operation and the penalty for a violation of the law is a misdemeanor offense, Virginia personal injury lawyers can use the statute in civil context to help prove a case for personal injury damages. The new statute is found at Va. Code Section 46.2-1078.1(1) and it provides that it is unlawful for any person operating a motor vehicle to use any handheld personal communications device to:
1. Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or
2. Read any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored within the device nor to any caller identification information.
The penalty for a violation of the law is a fine. The first offense is $125.00 and subsequent offenses are $250.00.
The law is an attempt to address the growing problem of accidents caused by distracted driving. Statistics show that thousands are being killed by distracted drivers. In 2011, car accidents involving a distracted driver killed over 3,000 people. Even more frightening is the total number of persons injured in vehicle accidents involved distracted drivers – nearly 400,000 people! A large percentage of such accidents involve younger drivers. If you are the parent of a teenager, education about the dangers of distracted driving could be a lifesaver.
Driving home from the grocery store last night, I went by two car accidents at two different intersections. I do not think of Charlottesville as a big city with lots of accidents happening on a daily basis, but there are a significant number of car and truck accidents in the area. Certainly, the number of lawyers in the area handling personal injury cases is a reflection of the volume of accidents in this area. Some lawyers handle the occasional injury matter along with other types of cases. At Wilson & Hajek, we focus exclusively on injury cases. Francis Hajek has over 30 years of experience in the courtroom and he has a proven track record of significant verdicts and settlements for injury clients. In a recent 2014 case, Francis Hajek obtained a 1.3 million dollar settlement for a motorcycle accident injury victim. Other recent results include a $375,000.00 settlement for a car accident injury victim who was a passenger when the accident took place and a $337,500.00 settlement for a slip and fall injury victim. The passenger car accident case was challenging because both drivers had some fault in causing the accident. As a result, there were multiple insurance companies involved and difficult questions of coverage. The slip and fall accident case involved complex medical issues. In addition, liability is always an issue in a slip and fall case because so many defenses are available to the owner of the property. Our firm handles a limited number of injury case so our clients get personal attention. Do excellent results follow as a result?