South Carolina’s roads are busier than ever, with more and more natives and tourists spending time in the many beautiful spots the state has to offer. However, busier roads have more accidents. One of the most common reasons that accidents occur is because of people texting and driving. A ban was passed in late 2014, but the specifics are still a matter of confusion for many. It is imperative that you have a good grasp of the law, or you may wind up breaking it unintentionally.
Statistics on Texting and Driving
The United States Department of Transportation reports that within one month of being surveyed, approximately 30% of drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 reported texting while driving. This skews heavily toward young people, with almost half of U.S high schoolers reporting commonly texting and driving.
In South Carolina, texting and driving had been an endemic issue before the law was passed. A 2008 survey ranked South Carolina as the worst state in the union for texting and driving, with almost 40% of drivers claiming to text and drive routinely. Yet several bills to ban texting and driving failed in committee or on the floor of the State House. A comprehensive ban was not signed until June 2014. The ban as passed does apply to all drivers in terms of texting, but telephone calls are currently still unregulated.
Negligence Per Se
The text of the law states explicitly that a violation does not constitute a criminal offense, but in certain situations, it is conceivable that a violation could constitute a civil infraction. South Carolina does follow the rule of negligence per se, which means that an act that violates a statute is considered negligent solely because it violated a statute. This concept has been illustrated in a significant body of case law, and applied in many others.
Most automobile accident cases are based in negligence law, which usually requires that four criteria be proved in court in order for you to receive compensation: (1) that a duty of care existed between defendant and plaintiff; (2) that that duty was breached; (3) that the defendant’s actions were the direct cause of plaintiff’s injuries, and (4) that plaintiff sustained injuries that were not ephemeral in nature – that is, that lasted more than a few days. The injuries do not have to be physical; mental or emotional harm such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) qualifies.
If you have been in an auto accident with a driver who was texting, this is important to remember because a finding of negligence per se significantly lowers the amount of work required in court. If you are able to show that the defendant’s actions constitute negligence per se, the first two criteria for proving a case in negligence law are already taken care of. Since a civil violation can often be seen as the breach of a duty, it stands to reason that a civil violation establishes both duty and breach.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help
While texting and driving does constitute negligence per se in most cases in South Carolina, it can still be a complex process, and having a good attorney on your side can make a lot of things much easier. The dedicated North Charleston auto accident attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse are knowledgeable, passionate and experienced, and are happy to share all of those qualities with you. Contact us today to discuss your case.