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Sending a text to a driver could make you liable

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
Text a driver in New Jersey, and you could see your day in court - CNN.com

A judge in New Jersey has held that if you knowingly send a text to someone you know is driving you could be liable for anything that happens.

This was the argument presented:

The plaintiffs' attorney, Stephen Weinstein, argued that the text sender was electronically in the car with the driver receiving the text and should be treated like someone sitting next to him willfully causing a distraction, legal analyst Marc Saperstein told CNN affiliate WPIX-TV.
The argument seemed to work.
The judge's ruling:

They ruled that if the sender of text messages knows that the recipient is driving and texting at the same time, a court may hold the sender responsible for distraction and hold him or her liable for the accident.
"We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted," the court said.
On it's face it doesn't seem to out of line because the one making the claim would have the burden to prove you (the sender) knew or had a special reason to know the recipient would view the text while driving". So just because you know someone is driving AND you send a text that does not make you liable if an accident happens, they would have to prove you also knew or had special reason to know the person you sent the text to would view it while driving.

When I first heard about this I though it was another example of not holding people responsible, ie the driver, at fault for an accident, but the burden is pretty hard to prove.

Thoughts?
 

Major

4 legs good 2 legs bad
V.I.P.
I'm curious how you would even go about proving that the person sending the text knew that the person they were texting was also driving.

But I think this is a terrible law. It is the driver's responsibility to not check text messages or anything on his/her phone while driving. It's like saying a bar should be held liable for drunk drivers.
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
Bars can be held liable if it can be proven they knowingly served an intoxicated person who shouldn't have been served anymore. A bar known for serving strong drinks down here and would let a lot of people have too much to drink used to be a client of mine and I would defend them on claims like that. Some were legit and some were not.

I know, it would be incredibly hard to prove even if I know you are driving and I send you a text I knew you would look at it while driving. It seems rather silly since the burden of proof is much too difficult.
 

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
Even if you know someone is driving I think the driver is the only one that should be held responsible if they have a wreck while texting. If he wants to check for messages he should pull over.

I guess if you a passenger in a car, talk to someone while they are driving and they have a wreck you would be equally responsible.
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
Even if you know someone is driving I think the driver is the only one that should be held responsible if they have a wreck while texting. If he wants to check for messages he should pull over.

I guess if you a passenger in a car, talk to someone while they are driving and they have a wreck you would be equally responsible.
Well, not equally but to some extent because it can be argued you were distracting the driver. This was the argument made which doesn't make sense to me. If you are present in the car you know you are distracting the driver. If I'm at home on the couch and even if I know you are driving, how could I know whether you look at your phone to see a text I sent you?
 

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
Well, not equally but to some extent because it can be argued you were distracting the driver. This was the argument made which doesn't make sense to me. If you are present in the car you know you are distracting the driver. If I'm at home on the couch and even if I know you are driving, how could I know whether you look at your phone to see a text I sent you?
If your at home on the couch I don't see how you could possibly know what the driver is going to do. I really don't think its fair to hold someone responsible if someone you text answered it and had a wreck as a result.
 

Crouton

Ninja
V.I.P.
I guess a person could always say they didn't know the other person was driving to get out of it. How can they prove that? Unless something in the text itself suggested that they knew...
 
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