There’s no question that driving and texting at the same time is dangerous and illegal. But a lawsuit in New Jersey filed by a couple who were the victims of a texting accident blamed not only the distracted driver who caused it, but also the person who was texting him at the time, CNN reports.
Kyle Best, who was 18 at the time of the accident in 2009, was driving on a rural highway when Shannon Colonna, the 17-year-old girl he was dating, sent him a text. Best allegedly was reading the text when he crossed the double-yellow line and drifted into a lane of opposing traffic. He hit David and Linda Kubert, who were riding a motorcycle. They were injured and lost their legs.
The Kuberts filed suit against Best and Colonna and argued that if she knew that Best was driving when she texted him, she also was responsible for the accident. The Kuberts ended up settling with Best and lost to Colonna, which they appealed. Apparently they left an impression on three appeals court judges who agreed with the principle behind the Kuberts’ appeal, but prosecutors couldn’t prove that Colonna knew Best was driving when she texted him, so she was free to go.
Here’s what the court reportedly said: We hold 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.
For what it’s worth, this is the state that just rejected a vanity license plate application that read “ATHEIST.”
New Jersey governor Chris Christie disagrees with the appeals court judges who said a text sender like Colonna could be held accountable for a car accident. He says it’s the driver’s responsibility to keep his or her hands on the wheel and pay attention to what’s happening on the road. We have to agree with Christie on this one.
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Report: You might be held responsible if a driver you’re texting causes an accident [w/poll]