Hopefully, people will think twice before texting and driving after hearing about a recent jury verdict.
A Robertson County, Texas jury has ordered that a graduate student pay nearly $22 million in damages in a wrongful death suit. The jury came to the conclusion that Jason Reed Vestal was texting and driving, which led to a fatal car accident in November 2007. This verdict is one of the largest in history in a texting-while-driving case.
According to phone records, Vestal sent and received 15 text messages and made seven phone calls during the 45 minutes he was driving before the deadly collision took place. The car accident claimed the life of 21-year-old Megan Small of Houston, who was a senior at Baylor University. Vestal’s truck collided with Small’s vehicle head-on.
Vestal said that he doesn’t remember anything from the accident and that it is really difficult to prove whether his texting really caused it. He said that his phone records only prove that there were text messages and phone calls occurring while he was driving.
Hunter Craft, the attorney representing the Small family, called this a landmark case. “No. 1 it’s the first time a Texas jury has spoken out and spoken loudly about their thoughts with regard to texting and driving. It was also the largest wrongful death verdict ever to come out of Robertson County. I think that’s probably synonymous with the egregious nature of Reed Vestal’s conduct in the case,” said Craft.
The Small family wants to use publicity about this case to urge Texas lawmakers to make texting while driving illegal in the state.