A New Jersey Court has held that liability may attach to a person who sends a text message to someone he or she knows is driving and will immediately read the text, if the driver then loses control of the vehicle and causes injury.
Distracted driving is illegal in New Jersey, and that fact fuelled a Court opinion on a new theory of tort liability against the sender of a text message. The New Jersey Superior Court held that liability may attach to a person who sends a text to someone who he or she knows is driving a motor vehicle and will immediately read that text.
The case arose after a 2009 crash in which a pick- up truck driven by an 18 year old man crossed the centre line and struck a motor cycle that David and Linda Kubert were riding. The Plaintiffs settled their claims against the other motorists but they also sued Shannon Colonna, a 17 year old friend of Best who had exchanged texts with him moments before the crash.
Telephone records disclosed that Best and Colonna had exchanged texts while he was driving, three of them moments before the accident occurred.
Commenting on the decision Liam Moloney a Naas based Solicitor said today “this is a landmark decision and could create significant legal responsibilities for texting motorists in Ireland. This decision should be a warning to all motorists and those sending texts to people they know are driving that they themselves could be held legally responsible if an accident occurs”.