Judge: Sender of Text Message Not Liable for Car Accident
A judge in Morris, New Jersey recently decided a novel legal issue: can a person who sends a text message to a person who is driving be held liable if that person injures others or crashes while receiving the message.
The issue was raised in a lawsuit because of an accident involving nineteen-year-old Wharton resident, Kyle Best. In 2009, while he was driving down the highway, Best looked down at his cellphone to read a text message. With his eyes not focused on the road, his vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed into David and Linda Kubert, who were driving a motorcycle. The results of the motorcycle wreck were catastrophic-one of David’s legs was torn off and one of Linda’s legs had to be amputated.
The Kuberts’ sued Best and the sender of the text message, Shannon Colonna. Kubert’s lawyer argued that Colonna should also be held responsible for causing the accident, as she was “electronically present” when the accident occurred.
In a recent decision, the court agreed with Colonna, and declined to extend liability to senders of text messages. The court said that if it were to hold Colonna liable, then every sender of text messages could possibly be held liable for any poor decisions that the receiver makes, such as reading the message while driving.
The Problem of Texting While Driving
Statistics from across all 50 states show that texting while driving, and other forms of distracted driving are a significant cause of motor vehicle accidents nationwide. In 2010, 416,000 drivers were injured and 3,092 were killed because of distracted driving.
Government research shows that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. This is little wonder considering that sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If the car is traveling at 55 miles per hour, this is enough time to travel the length of a football field.
Unlike many states, the Texas legislature has not acted to ban texting while driving for all drivers, except while operating a vehicle in school zones. Until the legislature acts, drivers will continue to be at the mercy of the good judgment-or lack thereof-of the other drivers on the road. If you or a loved one have been injured by an inattentive driver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can advise you of your rights and assist you in recovering all compensation that you are entitled to.