In the state of North Carolina, it is illegal to use a cell phone to text or send an e-mail while operating an automobile. The statute is in place for good reason, as collisions involving distracted drivers frequently occur at high speeds and cause serious personal injury. If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident, and have reason to believe the at-fault driver was texting at the time of the collision, contact the Raleigh personal injury attorneys of Maginnis Law at 919.480.8526. Our automobile accident lawyers will diligently investigate your case to prove that the at-fault driver was negligently texting and will aggressively pursue all compensation to which you are entitled.
The North Carolina prohibition against texting while driving is found at N.C.G.S § 20-137.4A. The statute provides that it is “unlawful for any person to operate a vehicle on a public street or highway or public vehicular area while using a mobile telephone to . . . (1) [m]anually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a mean of communicating with another person (i.e. text); or (2) [r]ead any electronic mail or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device . . .” A violation of this statute is punishable “by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100.00) and the costs of court.”
Unless the at-fault driver admits to texting, proving that he or she was doing so can be difficult and may require that you file suit. Filing of a lawsuit entitles you to take “discovery,” and under Rule 34 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, your attorney can submit a “Request for Production of Documents” to require the at-fault driver to produce his or her phone records. These records can help establish the at-fault driver’s negligent conduct.
An interesting discussion regarding car accidents caused by a texting driver is whether such conduct entitles the victim to punitive damages. In North Carolina, a jury may award punitive damages of up to the greater of $250,000.00 or three times actual damages when the defendant’s negligence was willful and wanton. Considering the studies which indicate that texting while driving is as dangerous or more so than driving while intoxicated, there is a good argument that punitive damages should be available; and, this is especially true when the driver was operating the vehicle at excessive speeds while texting or had previous citations for texting while driving.
The Raleigh automobile accident attorneys of Maginnis Law offer free consultations for all personal injury matters, and we regularly represent clients in Wake, Durham, Orange, Alamance, Johnston, Wilson, and the surrounding counties. We handle all personal injury matters on a contingency basis, so that you do not pay any attorneys’ fees unless we make a recovery for you.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident with a distracted driver in or around the Raleigh area, including Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, Morrisville, or Apex, contact Maginnis Law at 919.480.8526. You may also send a confidential email inquiry via our contact page.