New Jersey Court Rules that Texting to a Motorist May Create Grounds for Liability

Posted September 20th, 2013 by .

Categories: Auto Accidents.

distracted-driving-car-accidentsTexting while driving is illegal in New Jersey, but a recent ruling by the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division held that a person who knowingly sends a text to a driver may share liability if the driver causes a car accident.

If you were hurt or a family member was killed in a car accident that may have been caused by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver, personal injury attorney Anthony Carbone may be able to help you seek the financial security you need to cope with medical expenses and other damages. Please call the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone at 201-963-6000 for your free consultation; Mr. Carbone welcomes clients from the greater Jersey City and Newark areas.

In 2009, a New Jersey teen was exchanging texts with a female friend when the pickup he was driving drifted into opposing traffic and struck a motorcycle carrying a married couple; each of the motorcycle occupants suffered severe injuries in the crash. The couple settled its lawsuit against the driver but also sued the driver’s friend.

The attorney for the injured couple contended that the young woman was potentially liable because she “aided and abetted (the driver’s) unlawful texting while he was driving, and also because she had an independent duty to avoid texting to a person who was driving a motor vehicle.” The presiding trial court ruled in favor of the driver’s friend, and the injured couple appealed.

The lawyer for the young woman argued that she should share no liability for the accident and resulting damages because she was not present at the collision site, had no legal obligation to avoid sending the texts and did not know her friend was driving a vehicle at the time the texts were sent. Although the appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision, judges rejected the position “that a remote texter does not have a legal duty to avoid sending text messages to one who is driving.”

“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,” reads the ruling in part.

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a motor vehicle accident that may have been caused by a careless driver, please contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, P.C., to schedule your free case assessment. Mr. Carbone is proud to help accident victims from the greater Jersey City and Newark, New Jersey, areas.

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