John Price Law Blog

Could You Be Liable For Texting A Driver?

Lately, the public and the media have had a heightened awareness of distracted driving. More states are enacting strict bans on the use of cellphones and other devices while driving, and public campaigns against texting while driving has been mounted by more states. In most states, there is a ban on the use of handheld mobile phones for all drivers, a ban on hand-held and hands-free phones for bus drivers, a ban on hand-held and hands-free phones for novice drivers and a ban on texting for all drivers.

In New Jersey, a recent decision by our court of appeals has rocked state tort law by potentially extending liability in vehicle collisions to persons not present. In either vehicle or anywhere near the scene, but who were exchanging text messages with the driver just prior to the accident.

In a decision handed down in August 2013, the court determined that a person who actively encourages a driver to respond to text messages while driving can be held liable along with the driver if the distraction leads to an accident under the following conditions:

The decision, while groundbreaking, is limited in effect. In fact, the court found that the texter, in that case, could not be held liable because of insufficient evidence to show she knew or should have known that the driver would view her texts while behind the wheel. Nevertheless, the court’s holding opens the door for third-party texters to be liable under a narrow set of circumstances. Our car accident attorneys are following these developments and are ready to use this new precedent when appropriate in pursuit of the best interests of our injured clients.

Regardless of this ruling, texting while driving is negligent behavior that can cause accidents resulting in property damage, injuries and death. For your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road, put down the phone when you are behind the wheel.

Contact John Price Law Firm, LLC (843) 552-6011 as soon as possible after any car accident for the best results.