Texting Liability In New Jersey

A driver who is texting behind the wheel is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Yet, nearly half of U.S. drivers admit to receiving or sending texts while driving, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. To crack down on this risky driving behavior, New Jersey has enacted strong distracted-driving laws regarding cellphone use while driving.

New Jersey imposes a texting ban for all drivers and also prohibits the use of handheld cell phones while driving. Both are primary offenses, which means that a police officer does not need another reason, such as speeding or erratic lane changes, to pull you over.

Drivers who cause accidents while texting can also be held accountable for their negligent driving behavior through a New Jersey personal injury lawsuit. Evidence of texting or cellphone use at the time of a crash is a strong indicator that the driver was negligent.

Under a recent court decision, liability may even extend to the sender of the text message. In Kubert v. Best, a New Jersey appeals court held that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will read the text while driving. However, the court was also clear to point out that texters are generally safe to assume that the recipient will view a text message only when it is safe and legal to do so.

Therefore, to prevail in a lawsuit against a “remote texter,” the plaintiff would have to show that the sender knew the driver would read the text while driving, thereby putting the driver at risk for a distracted driving accident. How difficult a hurdle this will be in practice remains to be seen.

If you suspect texting may be to blame for your car accident injuries, it is important to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer at Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier. You may be entitled to compensation for your financial and emotional losses.