Sender of Texts Not Responsible for Car Accident

Many times we have discussed the dangers involved when California drivers are distracted by their cell phones. In an interesting case that has received national attention, a woman who sent text messages that ultimately led to a car accident was named as a defendant in a personal injury case, even though she was not the driver of the car.

In this case, her boyfriend was driving while sending and receiving text messages to her. As a result of his distracted driving, he was involved in a serious car crash with a couple on a motorcycle. They suffered serious personal injuries in the crash, and both of them lost a leg.

In the criminal case against the driver of the car, he admitted to texting while driving when the car accident occurred.

The injured couple has since filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the car. They have also named the man's girlfriend as a defendant in the case because she was the one sending the texts to the driver when the car accident occurred.

This is apparently the first time ever that someone other than the driver who was sending text messages was accused of being responsible for a car accident. In a recent decision, one that is expected to be appealed, a judge ruled that the girlfriend cannot be held responsible for the car accident simply because she sent text messages to the driver. He reasoned that senders of texts should be able to assume that drivers will drive responsibly.

Whether the appeals court will agree with this decision will be interesting for drivers everywhere and in California. Regardless, this story serves to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and of using a cellphones whenever California drivers are behind the wheel.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "NJ judge: Texter not liable for driver's crash," Andrew Duffelmeyer, May 25, 2012

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