A New Jersey court has set a precedent that not only it is the driver’s responsibility to ignore text messages while driving, but anyone sending the driver texts may also face thousands in fines and years in prison if an accident causes injury or death.
Many states are looking to prevent senseless deaths and injuries due to car accidents involving distracting mobile devices. The focus has increasingly been on texting due to its popularity with teens and young adults.
Now, a New Jersey appellate court has set a precedent that not only it is the driver’s responsibility to ignore text messages while driving,but anyone sending a text can also be civilly liable if the accident results in injury or death and they knew the intended recipient was driving at that time and would read the message.
The case involved David and Linda Kubert who sustained severe injuries after 18-year-old Kyle Best crossed the road’s center and crashed into their motorcycle. Just before the accident, Best got a text message from a 17-year-old female friend.
While the Kuberts settled the case with Best, they sued the girl when finding out the teens had shared 62 texts on the day of the accident. The prosecution held that the girl was “electronically present” and therefore also responsible. Though this case was dismissed, future cases may hold the “electronically present” guilty.
Should physically present passengers also be liable then?