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New Jersey’s Vicarious Liability for Texting a Driver

In New Jersey, you can be liable for not only texting while driving, but texting a driver.  After an avoidable tragedy left a couple without their legs, a New Jersey Court of Appeals held that if a person knowingly text messages someone who is driving, they can be held responsible for causing distraction if that person causes injury to another person or vehicle.

The case from which the ruling arose concerned two teenagers who had sent over sixty text messages to each other while one of them was driving.  The driver ultimately crossed the road markings and crashed into a couple’s vehicle.  The couple attempted to sue both the driver and his girlfriend for damages on the grounds that she distracted him by texting him while he was driving.  The couple came to a settlement with the driver, and the judge held that the driver’s girlfriend was not at fault because she was not aware that her boyfriend was driving at the time.  However, the court held that had she known he was driving, she could be held liable for causing him the distraction of texting.

Distracted driving is a serious issue that causes many accidents.  Distracted driving is defined as anything that could take your focus off the road, and in addition to operating a cell phone it includes:

  • Eating/drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • Shaving
  • Interacting with children or pets
  • Daydreaming
  • Adjusting the radio, air conditioning, or a GPS
  • Reading
  • Rubbernecking or sightseeing from the window
  • Smoking

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimates that 80% of car accidents result from driving while distracted.  In addition, dialing a number on a cell phone increases the odds of crashing by two to five times.

If you have been in an accident with a distracted driver and have suffered injuries, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can get you the compensation you deserve.  Call The Law Office of Ernest Holzberg & Associates today at (212) 391-1139 to schedule your free consultation.


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