On August 27, 2013, the New Jersey Appeals Court held that a person texting a NJ driver may be liable for a car accident caused by the texting driver.
This case was appealed from a New Jersey Superior Court decision in May 2012. A driver crashed into the injured victims’ motorcycle while he was replying to a text from his girlfriend. The injured victims sued the driver and his girlfriend. The Superior Court Judge ruled that a person who texts a driver behind the wheel cannot be held liable for an accident the driver causes. The negligent driver and victims have since settled their case.
Though the Appeals Court did not find the girlfriend liable in this particular case because she did not appear to know the negligent driver was behind the wheel at the time, it did accept the injured victims’ argument that a sender of a text may have some legal liability if he/she knows the other person is driving at the time. “We conclude 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.” http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a1128-12.pdf
This decision opens the door for injured car, truck or bus accident victims in New Jersey to sue the person the driver was texting with at the time of the accident, as well as the driver. Future distracted driving accident lawsuits in New Jersey may include senders of texts who were not physically present at the accident.
A question many people may have as a result of this decision is “how will I know the person is driving?” This will probably be the most contested issue for future distracted driving accidents naming the person the driver was texting with as a defendant. This issue will depend heavily on the facts of the case.
From a legal standpoint, does this decision open the door for an injured car accident victim to sue the person the driver was talking with on a cell phone when the accident happened? If senders of texts may be held liable if they knew they were texting a car driver, can people who are on the phone with the driver be held liable too? Perhaps, but for now, there is no NJ case law that is on-point.
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If you were injured in a New Jersey car accident caused by a driver talking or texting on the phone, feel free to contact Phil T. Ciprietti, Esquire for a free initial consultation. Mr. Ciprietti places the interests of his clients first in all matters. He is an experienced personal injury lawyer who has helped many injured car and truck accident victims in New Jersey. 800.281.8695
In addition to helping residents of New Jersey in all types of accident cases, Mr. Ciprietti also represents residents of other states such as Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Virginia who are injured in car, truck or bus accidents while driving on New Jersey roadways such as, the NJ Turnpike, AC Expressway, Interstate 295 or the Garden State Parkway.
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