Can You Be Held Responsible if You Text a Driver Who Gets into an Accident?
There are ten states in the United States that outright ban using any type of handheld cell phone while they’re driving. 36 ban novice drivers from using a cell phone while driving. 39 states ban texting while driving. In California, all three bans are in place. Driving while distracted is a nationwide problem, as evidenced by the federal campaigns to reduce texting while driving.
While most people know the basics of why it’s not a good idea to text while driving new questions are being raised based on an appellate court ruling: If you text someone who’s driving and they get into a car accident, can you be found at fault? The question may surprise you. Read on to get the details and then reach out to Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 if you need help with a personal injury case.
What happens if you text someone you know is driving?
Consider this scenario. You’re sitting at home, on your couch, watching TV. You decide you need to text a friend who you know is driving. They end up getting into a car accident after using their phone to check the message. Surely, they’ve broken the law not you. Surely, you’re not at fault. Or are you?
In New Jersey, an appellate court stated that if a person knows or has special reason to know that a person is driving, that they have a duty not to text them. This involves a case in which a couple were on a motorcycle and were struck by a man’s pickup truck while he was responding to the text. The couple on the motorcycle sued the driver and they sued the 17-year-old who sent the text for aiding and abetting.
The suit against the driver was limited to his insurance policy maximum of $500,000. The district court dismissed files charged against the texter but the plaintiffs appealed. While there’s no way to prevent a driver from checking text messages if you’re not there, the judicial panel found that if a texter knowns for certain that a person is driving and they text anyway, they may be partially at fault for the accident.
In this particular case, the court determined that the plaintiffs hadn’t proven that the texter know for certain that the truck driver was driving when the text was sent. As a result, the court case didn’t end up for a verdict against the texter – but the court seemed to indicate that if things had happened just a little differently, it may have gone quite differently.
Work with a personal injury attorney who will see every angle of your case
If you’ve been injured in an accident, and that accident was entirely or partially the fault of someone else, then you can count on Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas to fight for you. We will consider every possible angle and exhaust every option for you. Call today at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.