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Increased Text and Drive Liability

By: Erica L. Pereira, Esq.

I’m sure all drivers out there are aware of the recent crackdowns on “distracted driving”, most specifically, texting while driving. In today’s technological age, it is nearly impossible for a person to go anywhere without receiving a text message, phone call, tweet or facebook post. This constant receipt of information via our phones has made it increasingly more likely that drivers will receive such information while driving and feel the immediate need to respond to the information, text or post. All drivers are aware that this practice of texting while driving is dangerous, but in this age of immediate gratification, drivers will take that risk to respond immediately to a text message.
Just like any other kind of conversation, it takes at least two people to text one another. We always pin the liability on the driver who is doing the texting but did you know that a New Jersey Appeals Court has recently ruled that if you text someone who you know is driving and the driver causes an accident, the injured party can sue you for damages, no matter how remote your location from the site of the accident?
The New Jersey Appeals Court has ruled that a person has a duty not to text someone who is driving if that person knows, or has special reason to know, that the recipient of the text message will view the text while driving. In this particular case a 17 year old girl was held liable for damages when an 18 year old boy who she was texting hit and injured two motorcyclists.
Given extreme dangers of texting and driving, and the increased crackdown on the practice nationwide, it would not be a surprise to see this sort of law become recognized nationwide. As a result, be certain when you do take advantage of new technology that is available, that you do so safely and with a mind for the safety of others. Don’t text and drive, and also refrain from intentionally texting those family, friends and loved ones who you know are on the road. I wish everyone a Happy and safe New Year.

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