Wednesday, September 4, 2013
I don’t think anyone could argue seriously that texting while driving is not a dangerous activity. Studies have shown that the distraction of punching in keys on your smart phone to say hello to a friend or remind your husband to pick up milk while you are operating a vehicle causes at least as much impairment as driving drunk. There is no text message important enough that it needs to be sent while you are barreling down a highway at 60mph.
But, what if you are sitting on your couch and texting from the comfort of your living room, with no steering wheel or car engine in sight? Can you still be held accountable if that text message you send is delivered to someone who is driving and their attention to your message results in an accident? A New Jersey appeals court says you can.
The case involves a 17-year-old girl who sent dozens of text messages to her 18-year-old boyfriend on a single day in 2009, one of which was received just thirty seconds before a crash that seriously injured two motorcyclists. While the court determined that the girl was not to be held liable in this particular case, as there was not enough evidence to show that she knew her boyfriend was driving and/or that she expected an immediate response, it did state that a person has a duty not to send text messages if he or she knows these messages will be viewed by someone who is driving.
In other words, if you know your friend is currently driving to your place and you text him anyway, you can get in trouble if that friend gets into an accident while looking at what you wrote.
What do you think about this ruling? Can someone sending a text from miles away be held at least partially responsible for a crash? Or, is it ultimately the choice of the driver to pick up that phone and look at the screen?
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, we have experienced attorneys who handle automobile accidents regularly and who are ready to help you. Please contact the Austin, Houston or San Antonio offices of Bertolino, LLP today and tell us your story.
Posted by Tony R. Bertolino, Esq. at 12:38 PM