Message Sender Not Liable in Texting Crash

Message Sender Not Liable in New Jersey Texting Crash

In a highly anticipated decision, a New Jersey judge ruled recently that a young woman who sent text messages to her boyfriend while he was driving could not be held liable for injuries that occurred when he collided with a couple on a motorcycle. The case centers on a 2009 crash that occurred in Mine Hill, New Jersey, when a teenage driver became distracted by his cellphone and struck a motorcycle, causing both riders to lose their left legs.

The injured couple filed a personal injury lawsuit against the texting driver as well as his girlfriend, claiming that she acted negligently by sending him text messages when she knew he was driving. Court records show that the pair exchanged a series of text messages in the moments before the crash, with the driver sending the final message just seconds before he placed a 911 call to report the crash.

New Jersey is one of 38 states that have enacted laws prohibiting texting while driving – and for good reason. Texting behind the wheel is an extraordinarily dangerous type of distracted driving because it occupies a driver’s hands, eyes and concentration simultaneously. Research has shown that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash than drivers who are focused on the road.

While texting drivers are routinely held liable for the injuries they cause, the New Jersey lawsuit was the first known attempt to hold a third party sender responsible for a texting-while-driving accident. The controversial case captured the national spotlight as it tested the limits of New Jersey’s distracted driving laws. Although the court concluded that the text message sender was not liable for the couple’s injuries, some observers believe the case may prompt states to pass new laws that make it illegal to text a recipient who is known to be driving.

If you or a loved one is injured in a traffic accident and you believe distracted driving may have been a factor in the crash, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss the situation and learn about your legal options.