Three appeals court judges in New Jersey recently ruled that a person who knowingly texts someone who is driving can be held liable if the driver causes and accident. This ruling follows an accident where two motorcycle riders lost their legs in a collision where the teen driver was texting with his girlfriend. The injured party went after both the driver and his girlfriend stating that she was responsible for distracting the driver. Originally, the suit against the girlfriend did not hold up but, after an appeal, the courts ruled that she could be held liable for the accident. The girl pleaded that she did not know that her boyfriend was driving when she was texting him. Her defense held up and she was not held responsible, but the outcome could have been different if she knew her boyfriend was driving at the time of the accident.
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New Jersey has passed some very strict laws and penalties for those who are caught texting and driving, much like laws on drinking and driving. Drivers in New Jersey that cause an accident from distracted driving can face harsh fines of up to $150,000 or up to 10 years in jail. In Pennsylvania, texting and driving is a primary offense. This means that a police officer can pull you over and give you a ticket just for texting.
While texting and driving is illegal, it still happens every day. If you are injured in an accident caused by a driver distracted by texting, you should consult with a knowledgeable auto accident attorney.
Source: CNN U.S, “Text a driver in New Jersey, and you could see your day in court,” Ben Brumfield and Chris Boyette, August 29, 2013