Texting while driving is the act of reading, viewing, writing, or sending text messages via cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.

Texting while driving is a moving traffic violation and may be a criminal misdemeanor in certain jurisdictions. Studies have established that texting while driving raises the risk of a vehicle crash by anywhere from 2.8 to 23.2 times than normal. The laws covering texting are aimed more at deterrence (prevention) rather than recovery of losses.

Which States Ban Texting While Driving?

Texting while driving is against the law in 48 out of the 50 U.S. states, with Montana and Missouri being the only exceptions. Some state laws have a complete ban, which means that all drivers including school bus drivers and younger drivers may not text while driving. Other states only ban texting while driving for younger drivers or those who have an intermediate, provisional, or learner’s license.

Texting while driving is a primary offense in 47 states. This means that the police can pull a driver over if they are caught texting while driving. The offense is considered to be secondary when the police can only cite the person if they first commit a different traffic offense such as speeding.

The following is a chart listing the texting bans by state:

State

Type of Texting Ban

All Drivers (complete ban) School Bus Drivers Younger Drivers
Alabama Yes Only in emergencies 16 or 17 years old with intermediate license
Alaska Yes
Arizona None Yes
Arkansas Yes
California Yes
Colorado Yes
Connecticut Yes
Delaware Yes
D.C. Yes
Florida Yes (secondary)
Georgia Yes
Hawaii Yes
Idaho Yes
Illinois Yes
Indiana Yes Younger than 18 years old
Iowa Yes (secondary)
Kansas Yes
Kentucky Yes
Louisiana Yes
Maine Yes Younger than 18 years old
Maryland Yes
Massachusetts Yes
Michigan Yes
Minnesota Yes
Mississippi Yes Provisional license ban
Missouri Younger than 21
Montana None
Nebraska Yes (secondary)
Nevada Yes
New Hampshire Yes
New Jersey Yes
New Mexico Yes Provisional or intermediate license ban
New York Yes (secondary)
North Carolina Yes
North Dakota Yes
Ohio Yes (secondary)
Oklahoma Yes Yes Intermediate or Learners permit
Oregon Yes
Pennsylvania Yes
Rhode Island Yes
South Carolina None
South Dakota None Provisional or intermediate license ban
Tennessee Yes
Texas Yes Yes, with passengers Intermediate License ban
Utah Yes
Vermont Yes
Virginia Yes (secondary)
Washington Yes
West Virginia Yes Intermediate license ban
Wisconsin Yes
Wyoming Yes

What Are the Penalties for Texting While Driving?

As mentioned, the laws governing texting while driving differ from state to state. Nevertheless, punishment for texting while driving generally includes a combination of the following:

  • Monetary fines: these can range from as low as $20 up to $500 depending on the state
  • Criminal charges: in some states texting while driving can result in criminal misdemeanor charges (Class B or C)
  • Jail or prison time: if the offense has resulted in bodily injury to another driver, jail or prison time may be imposed

The severity of punishments increases with repeat offenses. For instance, after a second offense, the judge may decide to issue a higher fine or a longer jail sentence.

In addition to legal consequences, other punishments for texting while driving include:

  • Points on one’s driving record
  • Suspension or revocation of driving privileges
  • Mandatory road safety classes
  • Vehicle impoundment, especially if great bodily injury resulted from an accident

Finally, in some jurisdictions, commercial drivers and school bus drivers are held to stricter standards. Violations can result in fines of over $2,000 for truck and bus drivers.

What Compensation Can I Receive If I Have Been Injured By Someone Texting While Driving?

The precise amount of compensation will be different based on the facts of the case. Nevertheless, you can get compensatory damage awards for any injuries you suffered. You can also recover money for any expenses or any money you lost because of your injury.

In some cases, punitive damages may be added. Punitive damages are designed to punish the offender for his or her actions. For instance, if the person who injured you was fined for texting while driving previously, the court may add punitive damages to the amount of money awarded.

You should contact a personal injury attorney if you were involved in an accident with a driver who was texting while driving. A personal injury attorney can help you recover any money you lost because of the driver’s negligence.

What Are Compensatory Damages in a Texting While Driving Claim?

Personal injury claims are legal actions where a person has suffered physical, mental, or emotional injuries or property damages. These losses typically spring from some sort of accident. If the injured party files a claim or lawsuit for being injured by another driver who was texting and driving, they will generally be requesting some form of financial compensation from the party responsible for causing the accident. These are also known as compensatory damages, as they compensate the receiver for the injuries they suffered.

When Are You Awarded Compensatory Damages?

As stated above, compensatory damages are typically awarded to restore the injured person or party (the “plaintiff”) to the position they were before the harm or loss occurred. Therefore, compensatory damages are awarded in texting and driving cases where damages, injury, or loss have happened.

Generally speaking, there are two major types of compensatory damage awards: Special damages and general damages:

Special damages are intended to restore the injured party to the position they were before the harm or texting while driving accident occurred. This generally includes damages that can be calculated, such as medical expenses, property damage, loss of wages or earnings, and other quantifiable losses.

General damages may be awarded for losses that are not easily determined through monetary calculations. These can include losses connected with emotional distress, defamation, or loss of consortium or companionship.

State laws may vary concerning compensatory damages. Some states may place limits on compensatory damages, especially general damages.

What Do I Need to Prove to Get Compensatory Damages in a Texting While Driving Claim?

In order to receive compensatory damages for a texting while driving claim, the plaintiff must prove several aspects of their claim. In most cases, they will be required to demonstrate that a loss has occurred and that it was caused by the other party (the defendant). They must show that the defendant’s conduct is what caused the loss or injury.

In most cases, the loss will usually be caused by some sort of negligence on the defendant’s part. The defendant’s negligent driving caused an accident that injured the plaintiff (for instance, if they were texting).

In order to verify your claim, you will want to maintain and collect various forms of evidence that can be used in court to support your case. These may include:

  • Statements from witnesses;
  • Photos or video connected with the accident or incident;
  • Various documents, such as medical bills or police records;
  • Physical evidence, such as broken glass, dents, or other damage; and
  • Any item or evidence that can help the court to calculate your damages.

How Do I Collect Compensatory Damages?

Receiving a compensatory damages award from the court and actually collecting the money can be distinct processes. If a defendant is required to pay the plaintiff damages award, the court will usually order them to pay the amounts.

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Cited For Texting While Driving?

Texting while driving can lead to punishments, including fines and points on one’s driving record. In some jurisdictions, repeat offenses can result in misdemeanor charges. You should consult a traffic violation attorney if you have questions regarding texting while driving charges.