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Texting a Driver in NJ May Make People Liable for Accidents

Article Comments  23  

Aug 29, 2013, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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."

NJ.com »



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Aug 29, 2013, 10:39 AM


I'm all for safety but this seems like a stretch. I text friends and relatives not knowing if they are driving. Unless I'm a parent of a minor or them living under my roof, It's none of my business where they may be at any given time. It should be the sole responsibility and accountability of the driver to ignore or answer calls and read texts while behind the wheel. Trying to blame two seperated individuals seems like a ploy to increase court time. Who benefits from this? Lawyers. It should be cut and dry. You(the driver) are the one that holds total accountability of your vehicle. It should not matter what is happening around you. Unless the person contacts every single person that they are driving, it is impossible to "know" where this pe...
John B. At first I had the same thought. But I am sure it would require more than one text message exchange between driver and sender to be held liable. The ruling said that it has to be clear that both the driver and the sender are fully aware of the...
Not everything is a distraction and you can't ban everything. I live in Pinellas County, FL. The beaches was the biggest distraction especially Gandy Beach. A lot of these hot dog vendors were beautiful women in "more to the imagination" bikinis. I am...

Aug 30, 2013, 11:49 PM

Make the driver liable

The person on the other end shouldn't be held liable. The person driving the car should be held liable. They should pass a nationwide distraction driving law. Not just for texting. But also calls as well. Pull your vehicle over to text or make a call.
We don't need any new laws. Most if not all states have distracted driving laws. Using a cell phone while driving counts as distracted driving to me.

Aug 29, 2013, 9:36 AM

bad idea

Very bad idea with no end to it. Next thing will holding Mom liable for sending the kid out to get milk.
I agree. Often if I know somebody is driving and I need to get a message to them I'll text them so that they'll get it after they get out of the car so I don't need to remember to send it to them. Also, nowadays most smartphones have a driving mode wh...
GENIUS! I completely agree with this. It makes sense. Its not a simple as a mother getting blamed for an accident for texting her son to get milk. Its pretty much common sense. If a mother text her son to get milk son reads it that is that or if he wa...

Aug 29, 2013, 2:43 PM

Only from Jersey

Of course, why would we expect anything different form NJ. They don't even trust themselves to pump there own gas, and until recently didnt have photos on drivers licenses! 🙄
LOL really?
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