How Cell Phone Usage Affects Personal Injury Cases

In the state of Virginia, it is illegal to text and drive. This is known as distracted driving. You are still allowed to talk on the phone while holding your smartphone, but it is likely this law will change in the near future.

If you have suffered personal injuries from a negligent driver on their cell phone while driving, you might be able to sue the driver of the other car for your damages.

If you want to know if you might have a case, it is important to understand how the laws in Virginia work.

Virginia Cell Phone Use Laws

Juvenile Drivers

Any driver under the age of 18 is not allowed to use a cell phone for any reason while driving. This includes even hands-free cell phone devices. If the other driver looks young, you should try to verify how old they are. If they are wearing a hands-free blue tooth device, make sure the driver is at least 18 years old.

For juveniles, they can not be pulled over for using their smartphone, as this is not a primary offense. They can only get a ticket for cell phone usage if it accompanies other offenses like speeding or getting into an accident.

Texting and Driving

In Virginia, texting and driving is a primary offense. If the officer thinks you are texting while driving, they do not need any other reason to pull you over. If you are on your cell phone, but you are not texting, the laws become a little more murky. This is because the existing laws were passed before most people had smartphones and you could only talk and text on a phone.

Under Virginia law, you are still allowed to possess your cell phone while driving if you are using it as a GPS device. You are not allowed to use it in private messages on social media channels. Watching a YouTube video while driving would be ruled as a negligent act too. Managing your Spotify playlist would also be considered intentional negligence. Do not try to send work emails while driving. This is illegal too.

Local Ordinances

Laws not only vary from state to state, but they can even differ from locality to locality. Drivers who travel frequently within the state need to be aware of these local ordinances.

In the capital city of Virginia, Richmond banned all hand-held cell phone usage within the city limits. First-time offenders could receive a $125 fine, and the second offense is a $250 fine. Other cities with this ban include Hampton and Spotsylvania. Drivers are advised to use hands-free devices when talking on their cell phone, or purchase a phone mount for your vehicle.

Ban In Highway Work Zones

On the highways in work zones, all cell phone usage must be hands-free. This provision was added to the existing law in 2019, as officials have seen an increase in fatal accidents in work zones in the Richmond metro area. Eventually, most lawmakers believe this will be the new law on all Virginia roads, but this only applies to highway work zones as of April 2020. Many neighboring states already have this law on the books.

Talk to An Experienced Accident Attorney

It is important for consumers to understand these laws because they could come into play in your personal injury case if you are injured in an automobile accident. There are other nuances in the laws which are difficult for the average consumer to keep up with. This is why we recommend speaking to an experienced attorney if you have been injured by a distracted driver. Contact the accident attorneys at Epperly & Follis, P.C. to schedule an appointment today.

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