Posted on September 20, 2013 in Automobile Accidents
Liability For Texting
Someone Who Is Driving?
Three New Jersey
appellate court judges recently ruled that you could be liable if you are
texting someone that you know is driving.
The Court agreed with
the argument made by plaintiffs who were badly injured in a 2009 crash. They
had already settled with the driver, but they’d also sued his girlfriend, who was
texting with him shortly before the crash.
The judges accepted the argument that a texter might bear some legal
responsibility if they know the other party is behind the wheel.
I’m a strong believer in
the fight against texting and driving, which has seen some legislatures across
the country getting tough on phones in the hands of drivers.
So, this obviously
raises a few questions:
Is it now illegal to text someone who is
Obviously no, or at
least not yet anyway. I’m no aware of any criminal laws enacted on this issue but,
it appears you could be liable to a civil lawsuit, based on existing laws
against distracting a driver. The Court
concluded that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone
who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the
recipient will view the text while driving.
But anti-testing while
driving laws could be expanded to cover this situation.
How am I supposed to know when someone is driving?
Well that is the issue
that would have to be proved. But the
texts themselves might be evidence that the person is driving; for example: “Which exit do I take? I just passed Highway 41.”
should be taken in employer/employee or parent/child situations. Such a person is more likely to respond while
driving, and an employer or parent should know that.
How can I avoid liability?
That’s a no-brainer. Just
do what you should be doing anyway: Don’t
text and drive, and if you have a message for someone you know is probably on
the road…wait till they reach their destination, or you are sure they have
Can you be liable for an accident if you were texting the driver who caused it? A New Jersey appellate court says "maybe".