Could you be on the hook if a driver you were texting caused an accident?
There’s an interesting new twist in the campaign against texting while driving. According to CNN, a New Jersey state appeals court thinks that people who knowingly text a driver should be held responsible if the driver causes a crash! Seem a little hard to believe? Kyle Best and Shannon Colonna can tell you it is true.
In 2009, Kyle Best was driving his pickup down a rural highway. Shannon Colonna, his girlfriend at the time, had been sending Kyle text messages to which he was responding. One reply was sent from Kyle’s phone, and seventeen seconds later he was calling 911. Because Kyle took his eyes off the road to read and respond to the text Shannon had sent him, his pickup drifted across the center line and struck another vehicle head-on.
The other vehicle carried David and Linda Kubert, who suffered gruesome injuries due to Kyle’s distracted driving. Both David and Linda lost legs in the accident and subsequently sued. However, what sets this case apart is that the Kuberts believed Shannon was also at fault since she was distracting Kyle’s driving by sending him text messages. The Kubert’s attorney, Stephen Weinstein, argued that Shannon was ‘electronically in the car’ with Kyle by sending text messages, and should be treated as if she was sitting next to him and causing a distraction. The Kuberts settled their case against Best but lost their case against Colonna.
The Kubert’s case against Shannon Colonna was appealed, and three appeals court judges agreed that ‘the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted’. Ultimately, the judges ruled that Colonna was not aware Best was responding to her text messages while driving, and it was ruled she bore no responsibility for Best’s collision.
Should Shannon Colonna have been on the hook for any of the responsibility? New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, issued a response that indicated the responsibility lies solely with the driver in this situation. He stated, “You have the obligation to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and pay attention to what you’re doing.” Drivers should make the decision and commitment to never text and drive, enabling them to avoid accidents like these entirely.
New laws and regulations regarding cracking down on texting and driving are frequently being implemented, due to the large number of accidents that occur each year with distracted drivers to blame. Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. encourages each and every driver to put the phone away. Everyone can avoid costly accidents and potentially devastating injuries by simply committing to leave your phone untouched while behind the wheel.
If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident due to a negligent driver who was texting and driving, call us today. Our attorneys have the experience necessary to give you the representation you deserve.