Don’t Text And Drive…And Don’t Text Your Driving Friends Either
This week a New Jersey state appeals court determined that if a person knowingly sends a text to someone who's driving, and the driver is involved in an accident as a result, the texter could be held liable.
A claim brought against a girl who was texting the driver of a truck right before he hit a couple on a motorcycle led a New Jersey state appeals court to determine that the girl and others like her could be held liable in such accidents. The opinion states in part: “[W]hen a texter knows…that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving…the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.” It comes a few months after the state legislature introduced a bill, still in committee, that would require drivers to hand over their phones after an accident so that investigators could determine whether the phone was in use.
What’s the Big Idea?
The claim, which was dismissed for lack of evidence, was made by David and Linda Kubert, both of whom lost a leg in the accident. Their attorney, Stephen “Skippy” Weinstein, says, “[I]t’s the first time in the nation that any court has held that somebody can be electronically present, although not physically present, in a vehicle…and the two texting can be civilly responsible for damages that occur as result.” According to a recent report, about 10,000 crashes attributed to phone use occurred in New Jersey between 2008 and 2012.