Texting and Driving - What the Law in Virginia Actually Says

Author: Attorney J. David Douthit

Distracted driving remains a major cause of traffic accidents and fatalities.  CNN reports that distracted driving accounted for 16% of traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2009, which is unchanged from 2008.[1] Responding to this problem with regard to cellphones, the Virginia General Assembly enacted Va. Code § 46.2-1078.1, which became effective in July, 2009.[2] This statute largely prohibits driving while texting.

However, enforcement of this law presents some practical problems.  The statute does not make driving while texting a primary offense; that is, a driver cannot be stopped solely for driving while texting and can only be ticketed for violation of the…

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The Evolving Law of Contributory Negligence: "Putting One Foot in Front of the Other"

 Author: R. Clayton Allen

Contributory Negligence is the legal doctrine in Virginia which provides that a plaintiff's negligence, no matter how slight, that contributes in some way to her injuries, no matter the extent of the negligence of the Defendant, bars the plaintiff from recovery for those injuries.  Most states have the legal doctrine of comparative negligence, which says that if both the plaintiff and the defendant are negligent, then you compare the negligence of each to determine the percentage of the plaintiff's losses that the plaintiff can recover.[1]

The law of contributory negligence in Virginia continues to evolve.  Many of the harshest aspects of the doctrine have been further…

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Virginia Expands the "Move Over" Law

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Author: David M. Williams, Jr., Stafford Personal Injury Attorney

When driving on the highway, it's not unusual to see police or emergency vehicles on the shoulder. Sometimes emergency vehicles may be stopped on the highway, due to a motor vehicle accident, a tree or other debris in the road, or some other emergency. Many drivers do not realize that Virginia law requires a driver in these situations to move over into a more distant lane, unless it would be unreasonable or unsafe to do so. If you cannot move over safely, then you are required to proceed with caution and at an appropriate speed. Recently the law was expanded to include almost any vehicle that has flashing lights on the shoulder.

Virginia's…

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The Virginia Tort Claims Act: It's Not Enough to be Ordinary

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Editors Note: Under the old English common law, on which much of American law is based, a person could not sue the king or "sovereign government". This prohibition was carried over into American common law, and prevents claims against the government. However, this absolute prohibition has been changed in most states in some ways by written statutes. In Virginia, one of these ways is the Virginia Tort Claims Act, which allows civil claims for damages to go forward against the Commonwealth of Virginia and its subsidiary agencies and political subdivisions under certain circumstances. This article describes the Act and some of those circumstances.

The Virginia Tort Claims Act 1 (hereinafter,…

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"Virginia Law: Business Responsibility for Falls by Visitors and Customers" (Premises Liability)

Author: Attorney R. Clayton Allen

Recently I was reading a blog article about a child who was injured on a fast food restaurant playground and a successful lawsuit holding the restaurant responsible for the injury. What surprised me was how many readers posted comments blaming the parents for letting the child play on the playground and saying it was ridiculous to hold the restaurant responsible for the child's injuries. These comments completely ignore the duties the law places on a business owner, and what customer has the right to expect when they come onto the business property. Every time I have a case like this, I have to "educate" the jury about what Virginia law requires of a business owner. Here's…

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Virginia's DUI Punishments Enhanced: Ignition Interlock

Author: Attorney David M. Williams, Jr.

In representing victims of drunk drivers, I have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of drinking and driving. As states across the country continue to pass tougher laws to combat this deadly problem, we have fortunately seen a decline in the number of deaths and injuries from drunk driving. However, the statistics are still alarming: nationally, in 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in alcohol-related traffic collisions 1. In Virginia, 354 people died and 7,000 were injured in 2008 as a result of alcohol-related crashes 2. Experts estimate that about 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash…

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Stop Texting and Keep Your Eyes On the Road - It's Soon To Be the Law

 Author: Attorney J. David Douthit

Distracted drivers. We've all seen them, doing things like talking on a cell phone, adjusting the radio, or reading the newspaper. Maybe we've even been one of them. In its most recent session, the Virginia General Assembly decided to take action against one form of distracted driving: drivers who are texting while driving.

Effective July 1, 2009, texting while driving will be a traffic infraction. Under Code of Virginia section 46.2-1078.1, it will be unlawful for anyone operating a motor vehicle on Virginia roads to use a cell phone, blackberry or similar device to email or text message another person or to read an email or text message while operating a motor…

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