You Could Be Held Legally Liable For Texting A Driver Who Crashes

By now, everyone should know that texting while driving is a horribly stupid thing to do. But what if you send a text to a person who happens to be driving, and that person crashes? Could you be held liable in court? A New Jersey appellate court just said yes.

CNN reports on a surprising case out of the Garden State where appeals court judges ruled that if someone sends a text message to a person they know is driving at the time, and that driver crashes, then "a court may hold the sender responsible for distraction and hold him or her liable for the accident."

Here's the backstory: Kyle Best was driving his truck down a rural highway in 2009 while he was exchanging text messages with his girlfriend Shannon Colonna. Due to his distraction, Best crashed into a couple on a motorcycle. They survived, but lost their legs, and not only filed a lawsuit against Best but also Colonna for sending the texts.

The couple settled with Best and lost the suit against Colonna, CNN reports. But then they appealed that decision.

While the judges let Colonna off the hook because she was unaware Best was driving, they did set the precedent about people being potentially liable if they text drivers who crash — as long as they knew that person was driving.

It's kind of strange logic, when you think about it. As one person interviewed for this story notes, can you hold someone liable for distracting a driver if they're sitting next to them and talking?

It will be very interesting to see if this potential precedent is used in other cases. In the meantime, if you know someone is driving, you might want to wait on sending that text.

Photo credit Shutterstock

Hat tip to IPB!