12th Feb 2014
Everyone knows that texting and driving is dangerous and is a leading cause of accidents. In fact, New Jersey prohibits texting while driving. New Jersey’s motor vehicle laws makes it illegal to use a cell phone that is not “hands-free” while driving, except in certain specifically-described emergency situations. (N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3) Most people know that if you text and drive, and an accident occurs due to your negligent conduct, you could be found liable for the injuries sustained by a third person. Now, the New Jersey courts have gone one step further. In Kubert v. Best et al., the plaintiffs appealed the trial court’s dismissal of their claims against the driver’s seventeen-year-old friend who was texting the driver much of the day and sent a text message to him immediately before the accident. The court held: “when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.” Thus, the court held, depending on the circumstances of the case, the texter could be found liable for injuries sustained by an innocent third party.