September 05, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- It is no secret that distracted driving is one of the most pressing threats to drivers on our nation's highways. Indeed, many states, including New Jersey, have passed legislation strictly prohibiting the practice of texting or the use of cell phones while behind the wheel. Although more time is needed to determine whether these bans have reduced the number of car accidents
overall, the message is clear for drivers: keep your eyes on the road. But what about those who send texts to those people currently behind the wheel?
In one recent case, a New Jersey appeals court held that someone who sends a text to a person who is currently driving a car can be held liable for injuries to third parties when the driver causes an accident. Although this rule seems sweeping, the court did provide some limitations. Notably, the remote texter is only liable for injuries if he knows that the person receiving his texts is driving and that the driver will view the texts while behind the wheel.
The case arose out of a tragic accident involving two teenagers. Eighteen year old Kyle Best was driving when he struck and caused serious injury to two motorcyclists. Evidence showed that Best had received a text from 17 year old Shannon Colonna just seconds before the accident.
The Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court found that Colonna was not liable for the injuries suffered by the two motorcyclists. The plaintiffs had not produced sufficient evidence to prove that Colonna knew that Best would read her texts while he was still driving.
On its face, the rule outlined by the court may seem to set a high bar for remote texter liability. It may not, however, be as difficult to prove the requisite knowledge as it may appear. Indeed, it is not difficult to imagine a case where a person is texting directions to a driver, knowing that they need the information to reach their destination.
Only time will tell whether more of these cases come before courts in New Jersey, but rules such as these may be what the legal system needs to effectively combat the problem of distracted driving. In some cases, it is not just the driver who is acting negligently.
Article provided by Palmisano & Goodman, P.A.
Visit us at www.palmisanoandgoodman.com