Texting a Driver in NJ May Make People Liable for Accidents

Posted: August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized
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An appeals court in New Jersey set a new precedent this week by ruling that a person who knowingly sends text messages to a driver of an automobile may be held liable if the distraction leads to an accident. The case involves a 2009 accident wherein two teenagers were exchanging messages. The male teenage driver was distracted by messages sent by a female, crossed the center line, and hit a motorcycle, severely injuring the two riders. The riders wanted the female held liable for distracting the driver, which ultimately led to the accident and their injuries. “We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted,” ruled the court. In this particular case, the teenager was let off the hook because she did not know that the other teen was driving. “When the sender knows that the text will reach the driver while operating a vehicle, the sender has a relationship to the public who use the roadways similar to that of a passenger physically present in the vehicle,” wrote Superior Court Appellate Division Judge Victor Ashrafi. “As we have stated, a passenger must avoid distracting the driver. The remote sender of a text who knows the recipient is then driving must do the same.


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