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

Illustration for article titled 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.

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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.

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Photo credit Shutterstock

Hat tip to IPB!

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DISCUSSION

victorioussecret
Victorious Secret

So we are getting rid of all personal responsibility?

How is a person sending a text supposed to know at all times when the other person is driving? Are we now supposed to make sure that we only text at times when the other is not driving? Are we now supposed to have their entire, instantly updated schedule attached to their contact card so we know its a bad time to text because from 1107AM to 1122AM they are driving?

Were the judges smoking crack? Were the lawyers? Was the family who decided to sue doing even worse?

I'm sorry but if you get distracted enough by an incoming text that you crash; that is on you. Keep your phone on silent, use bluetooth, keep it in a cup holder, if you absolutely have a uncontrollable need to text pull into a lot or sneak a peek during a red light.

But don't blame the person who texted you for YOUR poor judgement in responding to that query. You fucked up. Not them.