DALLAS, Texas. Since the Trump election, lawmakers in six GOP controlled states and lawmakers in 18 other states have proposed laws that would penalize protestors and discourage those who choose to take to the streets. One of the most controversial of these proposals was a law that would have granted drivers civil immunity from lawsuits were they to hit protestors who were in the streets. The proposed laws were troubling to both personal injury lawyers and to free-speech advocates.
All of this may change after the tragic and reprehensible events in Charlottesville over the weekend. According to U.S. News, a man has been charged in the killing of one woman and the injury of several others when he drove his vehicle through a crowd of protestors. A bill had been proposed in North Carolina that would have protected drivers who hit protestors from civil penalty. While the law has many critics, it is important to note that the law would not protect drivers for criminal charges were they to intentionally hit protestors. Critics of the law claim that it was designed to target movements like the Black Lives Matter protestors who have, in recent, months, taken to the streets to protest police shootings and police brutality.
Critics of the bill claim that while it doesn’t encourage vehicular manslaughter, it comes only short of protecting it. The law’s most vocal critics claim that it incentivizes violence, like the kind the nation saw over the weekend. Others say that the laws violate citizen’s First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble. Vulnerable citizens who take to the streets have the right to be protected under the full measure of the law and this includes civil laws which allow pedestrians to seek compensation when the negligent or neglectful actions of another driver or person results in their injuries or deaths.
Supporters of the law claim that it protects drivers who find themselves surrounded by protestors. But, when you’re talking about a car vs. a pedestrian situation, the best thing a person can do, if they are driving, is to stop the car.
According to ABC News, in light of the events in Charlottesville, there has been an outcry for the bill to be killed. Personal injury lawyers, like the Dallas, Texas Law Offices of Robert Gregg, see firsthand everyday how important civil protections can be. Victims of car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other crashes are afforded the right to seek damages for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Families are also able to raise awareness for road safety through these lawsuits. By denying families and victims the right to pursue a lawsuit against negligent drivers, states are essentially telling protestors that they will not be afforded the full protection of the law should they choose to exercise their right to free speech. This is dangerous, whatever your political leanings. If you’ve been hurt in an accident in Dallas, Texas, protect your rights. Visit http://www.gregginjury.com/ to learn more.