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.
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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.