Can You Be Liable For Texting A Driver?

Lately, the public and the media have had a heightened awareness of distracted driving. More states are enacting strict bans on the use of cellphones and other devices while driving, and public campaigns against texting while driving have been mounted by more states. In California, there is a ban on the use of handheld mobile phones for all drivers, a ban on hand-held and hands-free phones for bus drivers, a ban on hand-held and hands free phones for novice drivers and a ban on texting for all drivers.

In New Jersey, a recent decision by our court of appeals has rocked state tort law by potentially extending liability in vehicle collisions to persons not present in either vehicle or anywhere near the scene, but who were exchanging text messages with the driver just prior to the accident.

In a decision handed down in August 2013, the court determined that a person who actively encourages a driver to respond to text messages while driving can be held liable along with the driver if the distraction leads to an accident under the following conditions:

  • The texter actually knew the driver would view the text while driving.
  • The texter has special reason to know the driver would view the text while driving.

The decision, while groundbreaking, is limited in effect. In fact, the court found that the texter in that case could not be held liable because of insufficient evidence to show she knew or should have known that the driver would view her texts while behind the wheel. Nevertheless, the court’s holding opens the door for third-party texters to be liable under a narrow set of circumstances. Our car accident attorneys are following these developments and are ready to use this new precedent when appropriate in pursuit of the best interests of our injured clients.

Regardless of this ruling, texting while driving is negligent behavior that can cause accidents resulting in property damage, injuries and death. For your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road, put down the phone when you are behind the wheel.

If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by a distracted driver, schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury law firm that will fight for your right to fair compensation for your injuries. Contact a personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP for a free consultation today.

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The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP is a full-service law firm serving Bakersfield, California and all of Kern County. Our firm is recognized as a leader in the community, and we offer and extensive and wide variety of legal services including, but not limited to water law, personal injury, business law, employment and labor law, estate planning, real estate, and much more. Please reach out today to talk to a member of our team.