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Sending Text Messages in New Jersey Creates Liability

08.30.13

 A court ruled 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.” Although the New Jersey appellate court ruled that there was insufficient evidence at trial that the person sending text knew that the recipient of the text was driving, the court nonetheless adopted the following standard in Kubert v. Best:

...when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.

The 17 year old remote texter in this case sent over 180 text messages the day of the accident to her 18 year old boyfriend who caused the plaintiffs (husband and wife) to each lose their legs after the distracted defendant crossed the middle of the road. The 17 year old third party defendant confessed that her habit was to text more than 100 times per day:

I’m a young teenager. That’s what we do.

....she generally did not pay attention to whether the recipient of her texts was driving a car at the time or not

This new standard of liability for texters set in New Jersey will likely be established in other states now that texting while driving is illegal in so many states.

 

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