New Jersey courts are taking the consequences of texting and driving – or, more specifically, texting someone who is driving – to a whole new level. It is common knowledge that it is against the law to text and drive. Last Tuesday, a state appeals court found in Kubert vs. Best that if a driver is texting and causes an accident, not only can the driver be held responsible but the person texting him can also be held liable for negligence.
The issue stems from a 2009 accident where, while texting, a driver crossed the center line and ran head-on into an oncoming motorcycle carrying a Morris County couple. The husband and wife each lost part of a leg to the accident and decided to sue not only the driver, but his girlfriend with whom he was exchanging texts at the time.
While the Appeals Court ruled that the driver’s girlfriend could not be held liable in this case, they also ruled “that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.”
Here at the Rosenblum Law Firm, our reaction was one of surprise and disappointment. This ruling once again crosses the line of personal responsibility and moves (some of) the blame to a third party. We feel that as a driver, it is your responsibility—and yours alone—not to pick up your phone and read or reply to a text while you are behind the wheel.
Texting while driving is incredibly dangerous. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, over 3,000 people were killed and 416,000 injured in cases involving a distracted driver in 2010. The NHTSA also reports that texting while driving creates a crash risk 23-times greater than driving while not distracted.
If you’ve received a ticket for texting or using a cell phone while driving, contact the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-883-5529 for a free consultation. We will help explain your ticket, its penalties, and your legal options.