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Friday, September 27, 2013

Can You Be Liable for Sending a Text to Someone Who You Know is Driving?

By: Peter J. Lamont, Esq.
New Jersey Business and Personal Law Attorney
Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont
Sending a text while operating a motor vehicle is illegal in all but a handful of  states. It's  easy to understand the logic behind  such laws. Clearly, the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents increase when the driver is distracted by sending and receiving text messages. Some might even argue that sending a text is more distracting than simply talking on a cell phone.
But did you know  that you may be liable for damages when you text someone who you know if driving even if you are simply sitting in your house?
In a case of first impression, a New Jersey appeals court ruled that if you text someone who you know or suspect is operating a motor vehicle and that driver is involved in an accident, you may be held to be partially liable for damages.
The Appellate Division stated in the case of Kubert v. Best, stated that a by sending a text message to someone driving a vehicle has "engaged in distracting conduct, and it is not unfair also to hold the sender responsible for the distraction."
While the Court reasoned that a driver has the ultimate responsibility for avoiding distractions, such as text messages, while behind the wheel, "remote texters" also have a relationship with other motor vehicle operators. 
So what does this mean to you?
If you know that someone is driving and you sent a text to them and that get into an accident, you could be sued. For example, if you text someone and they respond that they are driving and you continue to text, you will be deemed to have had knowledge of their status and should have stopped sending to responding to additional messages. 
If you would like more information about this topic or have general legal questions, please feel free to contact me at (973)949-3770 or via email at plamont@peterlamontesq.com We answer legal questions on a daily basis and would be happy to discuss any issues or questions that you have with you.

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