No Texting While the Recipient Is Driving?

Texting while driving bans are commonplace, but one state court takes it a step further by holding the sender of the text partially responsible for a resulting collision.

by Noelle Knell / August 30, 2013

While a few holdout states have stopped short of outright bans on texting while driving, the tide definitely has turned in that direction. The dangers of the practice, after all, are well-documented.

But according to a report in The Atlantic Cities, a New Jersey court has ruled that the responsibility for accidents stemming from texting behind the wheel can extend beyond the four wheels of the automobile. The sender of the text also can be implicated in the Garden State if a collision is blamed on texting.

"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 decision reads.

The decision was handed down following a case in which the sender of a text was sued for being "electronically present" during an accident blamed on texting.

Although the defendant was not held liable in that case, two of three appellate judges ruled that a sender of a text can indeed be considered partially at fault if they know the recipient is driving and they expect the driver to access the message while driving. The court called that behavior "unreasonably risky," meaning the sender of the text could have to pay civil damages in the event of an accident.


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