The Impact of Texting and Driving Laws on Car Accident Liability in Atlanta

Texting while driving has become an epidemic on Atlanta roads and highways. The dangers of taking your eyes off the road to read or type out a text message are well documented. Texting drivers are 6 times more likely to cause an accident than drunk drivers.

Georgia was relatively late to pass laws banning texting and driving. The state did not have a texting ban until 2018. However, now that texting while driving is illegal, how does this impact who is at fault in an accident caused by a texting driver?

Georgia’s Texting and Driving Laws

In 2018, Georgia finally passed a statewide texting ban for all drivers. Prior to this law, Georgia only prohibited texting for novice teen drivers and school bus drivers.

The 2018 law made it illegal for all drivers to:

  • Read or write any text-based communication, including text messages, email, and social media.
  • Use the internet on a wireless telecommunications device.
  • Record video on a phone.

There are exceptions for emergency personnel and drivers reporting crimes or emergencies.

The penalty for a first-time offense is 1 point added to your license and a $50 fine. The second and subsequent offenses come with 2 points and a $100 fine.

While this was an important step for road safety, the law does not allow law enforcement to pull over drivers only for texting. Police must have another reason to initiate a traffic stop first before they can ticket you for distracted driving.

How Texting and Driving Affects Liability

Prior to the statewide texting ban, the fault for an accident caused by a texting driver was determined by the same negligence principles as other types of distracted driving crashes. The at-fault driver would be ticketed for a violation like failure to maintain lane and would be held liable for any injuries or damages.

Now that texting and driving is specifically prohibited by law, a driver who causes an accident while illegally texting is almost assured to be found predominantly at fault. Breaking the texting law shows clear negligence on the part of the texting motorist.

Even in states without a texting ban, texting and driving is considered negligence per se – meaning that the act itself is inherently negligent, regardless of the circumstances.

So, in Georgia, a driver who hits another vehicle because he or she was texting will be considered primarily negligent. The texting driver’s insurance will be responsible for covering the damages and medical bills of any injured parties.

Contributory Negligence in Atlanta Accidents

Georgia uses a modified comparative negligence rule to determine accident liability. This means that an injured victim can still recover damages even if they were partially at fault, as long as their fault was 50% or less. However, their award will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

For example, if a victim was found 25% liable for an accident caused by a texting driver, their damages award would be reduced by 25%.

An injured victim can be assigned partial contributory negligence if they were also distracted in some way. Common examples include:

  • Texting, talking or otherwise using a cell phone
  • Eating, grooming, or attending to kids or pets
  • Fiddling with music, navigation or other vehicle controls
  • Applying makeup or looking at oneself in the mirror
  • Turning around to deal with rowdy passengers
  • Trying to retrieve a fallen object in the vehicle

However, the negligence of the texting driver is usually deemed much more severe. It will outweigh any minor negligence by the victim.

Damages in Texting and Driving Accidents

The types of accident damages that can be claimed against a texting driver are the same as in any auto accident case. These include:

Property Damage

Reimbursement for damage to any vehicles, buildings, fences, landscaping or other property damaged by the collision. This includes deductibles paid, rental car costs while a vehicle is in the shop, and any reduction in value due to the vehicle now having an accident history.

Medical Expenses

Payment of all hospital bills, doctor bills, therapy, prescriptions, assistive devices and other costs related to treating crash injuries. Future predicted medical costs can also be recovered.

Lost Income

Reimbursement for any wages lost due to missing work because of crash injuries. Lost income awards also take into account reduced earning capacity if disabilities from the crash limit future job prospects.

Pain and Suffering

Monetary compensation for physical pain, mental anguish, reduced quality of life and other intangible losses. These non-economic damages aim to provide justice for what the victim has endured.

Wrongful Death

In fatal accidents, the family of the deceased victim can recover damages through a wrongful death claim, including funeral costs, lost financial support, loss of companionship, and punitive damages.

Punitive Damages

In rare cases where the texting driver’s actions are found especially egregious and reckless, punitive damages meant to punish the defendant can be awarded on top of regular compensation.

By hiring an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney, victims can make sure they receive full and fair compensation when injured by a negligent texting driver. An attorney will deal with the insurance companies and aggressively negotiate a favorable settlement. If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, the attorney can file a lawsuit to take the case to court.

Don’t Delay – Contact a Lawyer Today

The dedicated car accident lawyers at The Brown Firm have helped hundreds of clients get fully compensated after Atlanta wrecks caused by texting motorists. We fight relentlessly to help victims recover damages for their injuries, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. We always demand fair compensation not just for hard costs but for the mental and emotional toll these preventable accidents take. Don’t leave compensation up to chance – contact our office today for a free consultation.

Visit our offices at:

  • 7176 Hodgson Memorial Drive, Savannah, GA 31405 
  • 320 East Clayton Street, Athens, GA 30601 
  • 197 14th St. NW, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30318 
  • 110 Traders Cross #226, Okatie, SC 29909 

Or call now for a free consultation on (800) 529-1441.  

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