Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney: Recent New Jersey Court Decision

Car Accident

Injury Attorneys in Rhode Island and Massachusetts Advocate for Changes in the Car Accident Laws

Recently, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court decided a case of first impression involving texting and driving and the potential forms of liability that may attach after a collision. This case is of particular interest to RI car accident attorneys who advocate change in the law and attempt to increase the penalties that negligent drivers may face after causing an accident.

Kubert v. Best, et al., 2013 WL 4512313 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2013) involved a young driver who negligently crossed the center line of the road while driving and caused a head-on collision that significantly injured multiple people. At the time of the accident, the driver was using a phone to send and receive text messages in violation of a New Jersey state law that prohibited texting while driving.

The case involved many claims, one of which was a claim by the injured plaintiffs against a friend of the negligent driver who caused the accident. The facts at trial showed that the driver and friend were engaged in conversations via text message throughout the day of the accident and immediately before the collision.

The court framed the issue as “whether one who is texting from a location remote from the driver of a motor vehicle can be liable to persons injured because the driver was distracted by the text.” The issue of liability for remote texters had never been addressed before by New Jersey courts or the state legislature. As a general matter, the court held that “the sender of a text message can be potentially 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 be distracted.”

Hence, there is a duty not to text people if it is known that the recipient of the text message is likely to view the message while driving. This idea of remote texter liability is relatively new, but will be addressed in other jurisdictions and may be something that RI personal injury attorneys can use in the future to help injured victims receive compensation for damages after a collision.

If you were involved in an automobile accident and suffered injuries, contact our offices to learn how our experience can work for you.