Thursday, May 24, 2012

Texting-While-Driving... Liability of Message'sSender

A novel, new spin on the texting-while-driving scenario that's bound to be repeated in future -- and interestingly, hasn't been tried before -- is being reported in a article this morning. The sender of text messages in a New Jersey traffic/personal injury case in which the texting driver of a car crossed centerline, hitting a man & woman riding a motorcycle which resulted in both losing a leg, was named as a co-defendant in that case.

The driver of the car had pleaded guilty to using a hand-held cellphone while driving, careless driving and failure to maintain a lane in Montville (N.J.) Municipal Court. That cost him $775 in traffic fines and being ordered to address 14 area high schools about the perils of texting and driving.

In the personal injury case against him, though, the plaintiffs' attorney amended his lawsuit to include the driver's girlfriend who had been texting him, at the time 19 years old, as someone who aided in the negligence even though she wasn't in the vehicle, the article said. "She may not have been physically present, but she was electronically present," he said.

The girl's defense counsel was quoted as having said, "The sender of [text messaging] has the right to assume the recipient will read it at a safe time," earlier this month in Morris County Superior Court. He knows of no court ruling anywhere in the country that says the sender of a text is liable if the receiver causes injury while reading the message. explores the issue a bit more this morning, noting that "Mark Rasch, head of the Justice Department's Computer Crimes Unit, said he thinks the case will boil down simply into this question: Can anyone really prove that the sender of the text, Colonna, knew that someone would read it while driving? Absent such proof, there is no case… But he was concerned with the larger issue of extending liability through digital means.

"The real question here," he said, "is, do we as a society want to impose a duty on the non-driving texter for accidents that happen when a recipient is driving? For now, it seems a reasonable place to draw the line at this: The person driving has a duty not to text. And the person on other end of line has no duty unless there are special circumstances."

CBS News also had an article.

The judge in the case said he expects to decide whether to allow the inclusion by tomorrow.

1 comment:

susanmeade said...

Driving while texting a message, driving while talking on the phone and Toronto careless driving can cause many serious crashes nowadays. I think that all drivers should be more careful because innocent people can be injured or even killed.