The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Texting and Driving: The Liability of the Party Texting the Driver

Can you be held responsible for injuries sustained in an accident in which you were texting the driver?

You are cruising down the highway when your phone starts to ring. It is a text message so you grab your phone, even though you know you shouldn’t, and begin to read. All of a sudden a truck stops short in front of you and you rear end them. The driver tells the police that he saw you texting and driving a moment before the collision. Not only is this a crime in most states, but it also creates civil liability on your part. You curse the person who texted you and think to yourself that this is partly his or her fault. Is it? The New Jersey courts have recently taken up this question.

A person who texts a driver cannot be held criminally liable because there are no laws in the that make this conduct illegal. But, we might be moving closer to an environment where the texter could be held civilly liable. Although it hasn’t happened yet, some recent cases are hinting that things are going to go in this direction. For example, in 2013, a couple that was severely injured in an auto accident attempted to sue the young woman who was texting the driver that collided with them. The case was dismissed. But, on appeal, the court left room for this type of claim.  They said that if the party knew that the other side was driving and were sure that the driver would read the text immediately, he or she could potentially be liable for injuries sustained in the accident. Therefore, it seems at this point that liability will turn on the knowledge of the person texting the driver. Although these claims will be subject to a number of defenses, we may be seeing this type of liability in the near future.

If you were injured by a texting driver or in any other type of accident, you need a skilled attorney by your side. Contact a Shrewsbury, New Jersey personal injury attorney today.

 


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