Texting while driving is discouraged in the state of West Virginia. Texting or using a cell phone in any capacity when behind the wheel can increase a driver’s chances of causing an accident. Being distracted in any way, in fact, can result in a disastrous crash. If you’ve been involved in a car accident with a driver who was texting, on their cell phone, or otherwise distracted, you deserve peace of mind. A Charleston texting and driving accident lawyer can help you find recovery.
In West Virginia, individuals are prohibited from using their cell phones in any manner while driving. This law came into effect in 2012 and continues to be enforced by police officers. It’s vital for drivers of any age to remember that distractions can cost lives. It’s a simple fact that when a driver takes their eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel for even a few seconds, an accident can happen.
Even when a driver uses a dashboard system like Bluetooth to keep their hands on the steering wheel while texting or making a phone call, their attention is averted from the task of driving. “Distracted driving” is a term we often use that encompasses any actions which force a driver to divert their attention from the road. Texting, making a phone call, glancing at a smartphone’s social media feed, or even eating or bending over to pick up an object count as distracted driving actions.
Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
Driving while distracted is a serious epidemic that is causing more car accidents in our nation than most of us realize. In 2018, distracted driving accidents killed 2,841 individuals and injured 400,000 more. As mentioned above, this includes all distracted actions—even those that do not have anything to do with a cell phone—but cell phones remain one of our greatest dangers on the road today.
How dangerous is dangerous? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a driver who sends a text while behind the wheel is 23 times more likely to cause an accident than someone who isn’t texting. Approximately 660,000 drivers admit to using their cell phones occasionally while driving. This creates an enormous potential for traffic accidents.
Among all the possible distractions, texting while driving remains the deadliest, and this is because texting even a three-word response takes our full concentration away from the road in front of us.
Think about the following:
How long does it take to read a text and send a quick reply? 5 seconds? In five seconds while traveling at 55 mph, you’ve traveled the length of an entire football field. Since you were completely distracted for those 5 seconds, you’re essentially driving that entire distance while blind.
Driving is an activity that requires our full attention due to the speeds at which we travel. Texting while driving is more than illegal in the state of West Virginia—it’s an act of carelessness and negligence that we can absolutely take legal action against.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
Research has shown that our brains can’t multitask. We can only truly focus on one task at a time, which is why distracted driving is so dangerous. As mentioned above, even five seconds of a distraction while driving can lead to you traveling 100 yards while not looking at the road or being aware of any other surrounding objects. Driving without distractions and while being fully attentive can be difficult enough, so removing your eyes from the road can increase your chances of getting into an accident.
On the less severe end of the potential outcomes of texting and driving, you could swerve into another lane and cause surrounding cars to swerve, which could cause a collision. You could also sideswipe another car. Even if the accident is mild and doesn’t cause any bodily injuries, it could still cause property damages that didn’t have to happen.
On the more severe end of potential outcomes, you could swerve into an oncoming lane and hit another vehicle head-on. This type of accident is often deadly for both vehicles because of the speed and force of the impact. No matter how mild or severe a texting and driving accident is, it is always a preventable accident. Whether the person texting caused a serious accident or a person’s texting further contributed to an accident, the texter can be held partly or fully liable for the wreck.
Liability can be complicated in a texting and driving case because it can be hard to prove that the driver was being negligent and driving distractedly. When you decide to take legal action in a distracted driving case, you could use the help of our West Virginia texting and driving lawyer to prove the negligent driver was responsible. Our legal team will talk to witnesses, recreate the accident, and even look into phone records to prove that the negligent party was texting and driving at the time of the collision.
What Constitutes as Texting and Driving in West Virginia?
Texting and driving is illegal in West Virginia, but is it only texting that is illegal? According to West Virginia Code, texting isn’t the only action that is prohibited while you are behind the wheel, and these actions aren’t only illegal while your car is in motion. Using your cell phone to text, make calls, play games, watch videos, or use any other form of media while your car is on and not in park is illegal.
Many drivers tend to text at stop signs and red lights and might think that this is okay because their vehicle is not in motion. But it’s still illegal. Even though your car is not moving, you are still distracted and not paying attention to the road and other drivers. You might miss your turn at a stop sign, or not notice that a red light has turned green, and cause traffic disruptions that lead to wrecks.
If you are charged with using a cellular device while driving, your first offense will come with a fine of $100. A second offense of texting and driving carries a fine of $200, and a third or subsequent offense carries a fine of $300. On a third offense, you could receive three points on your license.
If, however, you are dialing a phone number and then picking up a call with a hands-free device, or if you are dialing emergency services to alert them about an emergency situation, then those uses are legal. Also, if you are parked on the side of the road, it is legal to use your cell phone. Even though these actions are legal, it’s best to keep your phone out of your hands when you’re behind the wheel—moving or stopped—because even being distracted for a second can end tragically.
Even if your cell phone isn’t in your hands, it can still distract you. The ding that alerts you that you got a text could end up being a distraction that takes your eyes from the road. In order to be as safe as possible, keep your phone out of reach and don’t pick it up again until you are fully stopped, and your engine is off.
When another driver has been texting and driving or uses their phone for any other form of illegal communication while behind the wheel, and their negligence causes an accident, you could end up suffering from physical and mental injuries as well as acquiring property damage. Our Charleston texting and driving lawyer can help you recover the compensation that you deserve from these damages and hold that driver accountable for their negligent actions.
Taking Action With a West Virginia Attorney
If you have suffered an injury because of a distracted driving accident or drunk driving accident, you should seek the quality assistance of DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC at once. Our qualified attorneys can fully investigate the situation and provide you with the excellent representation you deserve. We founded our firm 40 years ago and have since provided clients with the tools they need to obtain an effective result.
By filing a lawsuit against a driver who was texting or otherwise distracted, you send a message that individual cannot ignore. Sometimes the only way for people to learn to curb dangerous behaviors is by facing the consequences of not only breaking a law—but placing the lives of others at risk. Lawsuits send powerful messages.
You may also be able to take legal action against the perpetrator’s auto insurance company. Doing so can turn an unfair or low settlement offer into one that’s fair and gives you and your family the compensation you need. You may be entitled to compensation that can cover the following:
- Medical bills and other associated recovery costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering costs
- Funeral expenses
Meet with a personal injury lawyer from our firm today to begin pursuing legal action. If a negligent driver caused an accident that led to your injury or the death of your loved one, one of our Charleston texting and driving accident lawyers can meet with you and help you obtain the money you are entitled to.
We encourage you to schedule a free case evaluation as soon as possible. Contact us today to learn more.