Thanks to the informative, sometimes heartbreaking “Don’t Text and Drive” PSAs, most of us are pretty aware of the dangers that we impose on ourselves and others when we decide to send SMS messages from behind the wheel. But according to a recently altered New Jersey law, those who knowingly text a person operating a motor vehicle can also be held responsible in the event that an accident occurs, CNN reports.
The new stipulation was applied as a result of a recent ruling on a 2009 case involving David and Linda Kubert, who were severely injured when their motorcycle was stricken by a motor vehicle. Behind the wheel of that vehicle was 18-year-old Kyle Best. Court documents reveal that a mere 17 seconds prior to hitting the Kuberts, Best sent a text message to his girlfriend, Shannon Colonna. Thankfully, the Kuberts survived the gruesome accident, but unfortunately, they both lost parts of their legs. They later sued both Best and Colonna. Their attorneys argued that she was distracting him, so she should be held responsible as well.
Earlier this week, three appeals court judges agreed with their claims, ruling that if a person knowingly texts a recipient who is driving and texting, the courts may hold the sender responsible in the event that an accident occurs.
“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,” the ruling reads.
In this particular case, however, Colonna was not held responsible for the accident.
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