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Office LocationKamerow Law Firm, PLLC
5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
In recent years automobile accidents have increased in frequency. One cause is the ever-increasing volume of traffic, but a more culpable one is the increasing trend of people multi-tasking while driving. Undertaking secondary tasks while behind the wheel of a vehicle on the public roadways divides the driver’s attention and effectively diminishes the capacity to concentrate on safe driving. This behavior can encompass many activities, examples of which include eating and applying makeup, but the most common multi-tasking activity that divides the attention of drivers on our streets and highways is the manipulation of cell phones while behind the wheel. Each year, thousands of people nationwide suffer injury and death at the hands of others who choose to text or otherwise interact with cell phones while driving. For this reason, legislators in a majority of states have enacted statutes prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving.
One necessary element of crimes against persons, such as homicide, is malice intent, which is a legal term describing the intent to do harm. While most motorists who get into accidents as a result of cell phone manipulation never meant to harm anyone, harm often results. The average person who causes an accident by driving while texting simply intended to commute to work, arrive at social engagements, or otherwise condense the utility of time by communicating via cell phone while driving. Nevertheless, malice does exist. At the point at which a person makes the conscious decision to pick up a cell phone and avert line of sight from the roadway to the phone, that person knowingly makes a concurrent decision to create the risk that an accident might result. The risk endangers others on and near the roadway, and not merely the driver. For these reasons, a seemingly innocent accident victim can be deemed by law to have acted with malice upon making the conscious decision to manipulate a cell phone while driving.
In Virginia, if a driver texts or otherwise interacts with a cell phone while driving and as a result, causes an accident that, in turn, causes the death of another, that driver could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. While Virginia statutes do not cover such charges, they are part of the Commonwealth’s common law offenses.
Accidents caused by cell phone use at the same time as driving create civil liability as well as criminal liability. A case in negligence can arise under such circumstances, and can be won against the texting driver who causes harm, even if that defendant was found innocent in criminal court. The burden of proof in a criminal case is that beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas the level of proof needed in a civil case is significantly lower, being a preponderance of the evidence.
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If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that is likely to have been caused by cell phone use while driving, you need legal assistance. Causation is a necessary element to win any case involving property damage, death, or personal injury, and can be a very difficult to prove in a court of law. Contact the attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC in Alexandria for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.