In May of 2012, we told you about a texting while driving accident case in New Jersey where the plaintiffs sued not only the driver at fault, but also the person the driver was texting with. The defendant caused a car accident when he was replying to a text sent by his girlfriend. His pick-up truck drifted into oncoming traffic and crashed into a couple’s motorcycle. Both the husband and wife on the motorcycle lost their left legs as a result of the accident.
Then, in late May of 2012, a Judge ruled that the defendant’s girlfriend could not be held liable for the injuries caused by the driver at fault because it would be unreasonable to impose a duty on the sender of text.
The case was appealed, and on August 27, 2013, the New Jersey Appeals Court held that a person texting a NJ driver may be liable for a car accident caused by the driver who was texting while driving. The court stated that if a person knows or has reason to know that the person he/she is texting with is driving, he/she has a duty not to text the driver. In this particular case, however, there was no evidence that the defendant’s girlfriend knew that the defendant was driving. Therefore, she was not held liable. http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a1128-12.pdf
This decision has a significant impact on future distracted accident lawsuits in New Jersey. More and more plaintiffs in NJ car accident lawsuits are going to name the person the driver was texting with while driving. Therefore, senders of texts who are physically not present at the accidents may be liable for injured victims’ injuries and damages.
This decision may also open the door for injured NJ car accident victims to sue other parties not physically present at their car accidents, in addition to the negligent drivers. For example, can the company who puts a big billboard up in the street be liable for a car accident caused by the driver who takes his eyes off the road to read the billboard and causes an accident? Applying the NJ Appeals Court’s ruling, an injured car accident victim may argue that the company that put up the billboard knew that drivers were going to read the billboard. In fact, the company hopes that drivers read the billboard. Because the driver at fault was distracted by looking at the billboard for 2 seconds, the distracted driver caused an accident.
The landscape of NJ car accident lawsuits will change because of this decision. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months.
If you were injured in a car or truck accident caused by a distracted driver who was texting while driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Your injuries may require future surgery and other medical procedures. You shouldn’t have to suffer because of someone else’s negligence. Call the car accident personal injury lawyers at White and Williams who have helped many injured victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer a free initial consultation. 877.944.8396