New Jersey Appeals Court Weighs In On Text Senders’ Liability

A person who is texting while driving can be held liable for an accident that he or she has caused, but can the person who is exchanging messages with the driver also be held liable?

That question was recently brought to the forefront in a New Jersey trial after a couple claimed that not only was a texting driver responsible for injuries they suffered after he struck their motorcycle, but that his 17-year-old girlfriend who had been texting him right before accident was also liable.

The story made national headlines. How would the court come down on this issue?

The trial court dismissed the claim against the girlfriend. That decision was appealed and a New Jersey appellate court upheld the lower court ruling.

However, the higher court did not completely discount the other party’s potential liability in an accident caused by a texting motorist. Although the court did set the bar high for proving a text sender’s liability, it did say that he or she could be held liable if that person had “special reason” to know that the driver was on the road and would read the messages.

“When the sender knows that the text will reach a 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,” the court wrote. “The texter has a duty to users of public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.”

The appeals court let the lower court’s decision stand in this case because the plaintiffs couldn’t prove that the girlfriend knew her boyfriend would be looking at her messages while he was driving.

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a negligent motorist, the distracted driving injury accident attorneys at Farah & Farah in Jacksonville would like to talk to you about your legal rights and options. Don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 533-3555 or contact us online today to see if you have a case.