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Text mates in New Jersey could be held liable for Car Accidents

In what would seem a mystifying turn of events, state court judges agreed that text mates may also be held liable for civil lawsuits involving distracted driving.

The New Jersey Court of Appeals decided that it was possible for a recipient or originator of the text that causes a car accident may also be held liable for any consequences in a civil action. This ruling was based on a 2009 incident where a driver was distracted by a text sent by a 17-year-old female friend and plowed into a couple in a motorcycle, resulting serious injuries. The couple from Morris County sued the driver and his text mate. While the girl was found not liable in that particular case, it is the judges’ opinion that it may be possible in other instances if the texter “knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.”

Texting is considered the most dangerous of mobile phone-related distractions, making the risk of car accidents 23 times more likely. Talking and listening on a mobile phone increases the risk only 1.4 times; still risky but not as much as texting. While young adults and teenagers are often pinpointed as a big problem in this issue, many older adults are doing the same thing.

However, penalizing someone who is not driving merely by sending a text to someone who is seems to be stretching the point a bit too far. After all, it is the driver who decides to pick up the phone at inappropriate times, and the texter would not have any control over the actions of the person receiving the text. Judges justify the ruling by expressing the hope that such strict liability will make drivers- and their text mates – aware of the dangers of texting and driving.

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