Individuals who text and drive are now not the only ones who can be held liable for any accidents they cause. As of earlier this year, it has been legally established that the person who sends the text message to the driver who caused the accident can now be held legally responsible as well. Liability can only be proven, however, if it is shown that the sender of the text message knew or had reason to believe that the recipient would likely read the message while operating a vehicle. This legal development in New Jersey is due to a decision made in recent months by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey (Kubert v. Best).
According to the court documents, the original case stemmed from a motor vehicle accident that was caused by an 18-year-old driver who was texting his 17-year-old friend while driving. The accident resulted in two other individuals being injured. While the accident victims were able to settle their claim against the 18-year-old and secure compensation, they were unsuccessful in getting the 17-year-old also held liable for the accident. As a result, they filed an appeal of the trial court's dismissal of the claims against the younger minor. While the Appellate Division backed the trial court's decision that the 17-year-old should not be held liable in the case, it disagreed with the lower court's conclusion that there is a complete lack of legal duty for remote texters in these types of cases. Instead, the Appellate Division stated that there is a legal duty to refrain from texting someone who can be reasonably expected to read the text while driving (as mentioned above).
Considering this court decision, we advise you to refrain from texting your family members, friends or others you know whenever there is reason to believe that they are driving. At our law firm—Amdur, Maggs & Dugan—we have Monmouth County divorce lawyers who assist clients through each step of the divorce process, as well as through many other types of family law matters. Contact our firm to learn more about our legal services!