A 16-year-old Texas girl died after removing her seatbelt to take a selfie.
Just seconds after she unbuckled and snapped the photo, the car she was riding in ran off the road and flipped. The girl was ejected from the vehicle and died instantly; everyone else in the car was wearing a seatbelt, and they all escaped with minor injuries.
These kinds of stories are becoming all too common:
- A North Dakota woman died when a man taking a selfie while driving rear-ended her bicycle;
- A North Carolina woman wanted to get a picture of the smile on her face when Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy ” came on the radio. She took a selfie, and seconds later she veered into the wrong lane and struck a 12-ton truck head on; and
- A driver in Maine injured himself and several friends when he took his eyes off the road to lean into a selfie that one of his passengers was taking.
Selfies While Driving – Dumb and Deadly
There is really no nice way to put this – taking a photo of yourself while driving is dumb. And it kills.
So is texting, checking your email, or posting to social media. If you don’t think so, consider this – when you use your phone to snap a photo or send a message while driving, you may as well have your eyes closed while traveling the distance of a football field at 55 mph…
In 2016, 3,450 people died in distracted-driving accidents, and more than 1,000 of those involved a cell phone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NHTSA has been warning drivers about these dangers for years, and statistics show that some people may be listening – the number of people holding cell phones to their ear and texting while driving has decreased slightly in recent years.
But, when it comes to snapping selfies while driving, people don’t seem to have gotten the memo – there were 72,000 posts with hashtags like #SelfieWhileDriving, #Driving Selfie, and #HopeIDon’tCrash in 2016.
What Does SC Law Say About Selfies While Driving?
In South Carolina, it is illegal to take a selfie while driving. It is also illegal to text, send or read social media posts, and surf the Web. For a first offense, a driver could be fined $25, and any subsequent offense could cost them $50.
That doesn’t sound so bad, right?
But, if a driver causes an accident and hurts someone while using a phone, they could be charged with reckless vehicular homicide, sent to prison for 10 years, and forced to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
What About Lawsuits?
In addition to the possibility of criminal charges and prison time, they will also get hit with a SC personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
If they’ve already been convicted in criminal court, the jury in the civil case won’t even have to determine whether the phone-wielding driver was liable – their only decision may be how much money to award the plaintiff.
Even if the defendant wasn’t found guilty in criminal court, that doesn’t mean they can’t be held liable in a civil case. The plaintiff would not have to prove the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” because the burden of proof is lower in civil court – “preponderance of the evidence,” or the defendant “more likely than not” was responsible for the accident.
Auto Accident Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, Conway, Columbia, and Charleston, SC
If you’ve been injured because another driver was distracted while playing on their phone, call your SC auto accident attorney immediately. We can subpoena the driver’s phone records, recruit a cell phone expert when needed, and call on eyewitnesses to prove the driver was distracted.
Call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or send us a message online to find out how we can help.