No liability for texting friend in New Jersey motorcycle accident
We previously covered the story of a New Jersey couple that was seeking damages from someone who sent a text that allegedly distracted the driver that hit them. The couple sustained serious injuries when the car swerved and hit their motorcycles.
The case was unique in New Jersey and for liability claims all around the country and had a potential to introduce additional responsibility onto third parties who are not in the car at the time of the accident.
A judge finally made a decision on the case, and ruled that the lawsuit against the sender of the text message could not go forward. The decision was on a summary judgment motion, which means that the parties were asking the judge to decide if there was any law that would provide relief to the injured parties based on the facts alleged against the defendant.
Apparently there was not, and the opinion indicated that there was no precedent in New Jersey law that would hold the sender of the text responsible for the accident.
This claim may have been allowed to go forward based on the idea that a car accident is reasonably foreseeable when one sends a message to a person that they know is driving. Allowing the claim to go forward would open up the possibility that anyone sending a text would owe a duty of care to a potential accident victim, which many argued was too broad.
At the same time, texting while driving is a huge safety issue in New Jersey and it’s important for policy makers to find better ways to incentivize drivers to keep their eyes on the road and off their phones.
Source: New Jersey Law Journal, “No liability found for sending texts to driver just before crash,” Mary Pat Gallagher, May 25, 2012.