Sender of Text Message Not Liable in Automobile Crash
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) July 25, 2012 – It should be common knowledge that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. Drivers who make phone calls or send text messages take their minds off the task at hand, and can cause serious traffic accidents. But a recent New Jersey case tested the theory that the sender of a text message can be held liable for a collision caused by the recipient of the message. The short answer, according to Superior Court Judge David Rand, is no.
Linda and David Kubert were on their motorcycle in Morris County, New Jersey, on September 21, 2009, when they were struck by a pickup truck. They claim they saw the driver, Kyle Best, steering with his elbows while looking down at his cell phone. The two each lost a leg in the crash. They sued not only Best, but Shannon Colonna, who sent a text message to Best shortly before the crash. Judge Rand ruled that Colonna could not be held liable, as she had no way of knowing when Best would read the message.
“Although the text sender was not held liable in this case, this is a reminder that cell phone use while driving, like all forms of distracted driving, is a major safety issue,” said Robert Briskman, a Chicago car accident attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, a Chicago personal injury law firm.
Best pleaded guilty to three citations. He will pay $775 and speak at 14 schools about the threat to safety that is posed by texting while driving.
Records indicated that Best responded to a text message from Colonna just seconds before he called 911 to report the collision. Judge Rand agreed with Colonna's attorney that she cannot be held liable for sending the text message. The Kuberts' lawyer said they plan to appeal. The case is believed to be the first of its kind.
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