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Remote Texter May be Liable to Distracted Driver’s Crash

Sep 19 | 2013  by

In 2009, David Kubert and his wife were riding their motorcycle when they were struck by a pickup truck that crossed the center line.  Both riders on the motorcycle were severely injured causing them each to lose their left leg.  They sued the driver of the vehicle who had been texting when the accident occurred.  The case against the driver was settled.

However, in a recently released opinion of the New Jersey Court of Appeals, the court held that the person who sent the text to the driver can also be held liable for injuries caused in the resulting accident.  This potential liability only arises if the individual sending the text knew they were being viewed by the recipient while that individual was driving.

Specifically, the court stated that “a person 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.”

While this is a New Jersey opinion and not binding in Michigan, it does evidence a growing trend among states to decrease distracted driving.  Presently, more than 40 states, including Michigan, have passed laws that prohibit texting while driving.  It is not yet known if this New Jersey decision will create a new standard to be followed by other states.

While this is not a law in Michigan – at least not yet – it is good practice is not to send text messages to a person if you know that person is driving.

If you have questions about Michigan’s ban on texting while driving, or have other legal questions, contact the experienced legal team by calling (248) 380-0000 or online