Texters Could Potentially Face Liability for Sending Messages to Drivers Later Involved in Car Accidents, State Court Rules

In a recent car accident case, Kubert v. Best, et. al, Sup. Ct. NJ, App. Div. (2013) , a New Jersey appeals court examined whether an individual sending text messages to a driver may be held liable for any resulting accidents caused as a result. The state has laws forbidding texting while driving, as we have in Maryland.

The panel of judges created a new standard of liability in the case, which involved a car accident that took place in 2009. The accident occurred when an 18 year old young man accidentally crossed the center line, colliding into a motorcycle that was carrying a husband and wife. The accident caused both of the individuals to lose their left legs, as a result of the injuries they sustained in the crash.

Later obtained evidence, including phone records, demonstrated that the driver had been actively texting with a 17 year old female friend. After the injured couple settled with the driver in the accident, they claimed that the young woman was also at fault in the accident, for distracting the driver with texts. The trial judge found that the young girl did not owe the injured couple any duty to stop texting, even if she knew that the young man was driving.

The three judge panel reversed the trial court judge’s decision, stating:

We hold that, 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.

However, after creating that standard, it relieved the young woman from liability in this case, stating that it was not clear whether she knew that the young man would read the text she had sent while he was driving.

Although phone records in the case reveal that the two teens exchanged text messages 62 times on the day the collision occurred, this evidence alone was not sufficient proof that the young woman breached the duty described.

The panel failed to create a standard holding cellphone companies liable for not creating features for their products that prevented these kinds of distractions. The decision stated that to go that far would create a slippery slope for potential products liability cases against a litany of different related industries.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident in Maryland, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers immediately. We have many years of experience in advocating aggressively on behalf of individuals and families who have suffered due to personal injury or wrongful death as a result of a car accident. If you believe that your car accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, please contact us today by calling 1-800-654-1949, or through our website, in order to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Husband Sues Wife’s Employer for Wrongful Death Following Tragic Car Accident, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published November 19, 2013
Man Attempting to Flee Maryland Traffic Stop Killed After Being Ejected From Car, Maryland Accident Attorney Blog, published November 12, 2013

Contact Information