NJ COURT RULES TEXT SENDER CAN BE LIABLE IF DRIVER HAS A CRASH
A New Jersey appellate court has ruled that car accident victims could sue a person who sends a text message to a driver and the driver then causes an accident. The ruling also stipulated that the text sender could only be liable if he or she had reason to know that the driver would read the text while driving. The case appears to be the first one of its kind in the country. The ruling came in the case of a couple who were severely injured when their motorcycle was hit by a young man who was texting while driving. They also sued his girlfriend who sent him the text message. The Court originally ruled that the text sender did not have reason to know that her friend would read her text while driving. However, the appellate court overturned the ruling, stating that when the sender knows that the text will reach the driver while operating a vehicle, the sender has a duty to the public to not distract the driver, as if the sender were physically present in the vehicle. If personal responsibility doesn’t motivate people to avoid texting while driving, the tough penalties and the threat of civil liability for text senders might help. The case could have national impact.