To explain yet another reason while texting while driving is a terrible idea, I need to first mention and explain the concept of punitive damages.
Punitive damages are jury awards that are levied against a defendant (such as a texting driver) not to compensate for any injury done to an injured motorist or driver, but rather to punish the texting driver for the careless and unsafe act of texting while driving.
Currently Georgia law specifically provides for the allowance of punitive damages against drivers who consume drugs or alcohol and then drive and cause harm to another driver, passenger or pedestrian. This law is specifically found at O.C.G.A. Sec. 51-12-5.1(f) which provides that there shall be no limit on the amount of punitive damages.
While there is no current law specifically allowing for punitive damages against a texting driver who causes injury, the general law of punitive damages does allow punitive damages against an person who is shown to act with “that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.” O.C.G.A. Sec. 51-12-5.1(b).
It is entirely possible that a judge and jury would agree that texting while driving – meaning looking away from the road and diverting attention to a phone – shows a presumption that the driver was indifferent to the consequences of voluntarily looking away from the roadway while driving.
So, put it all together, and it becomes clear that texting while driving could lead to a punitive damage award of hundreds or thousands of dollars against the driver that is big enough to make them lose their house. Literally.