Aug 30

Legal Responsibility for Sending Text Messages to Drivers

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If a car accident occurs because a driver was text-messaging while driving, almost all will agree that the driver should be responsible for that automobile accident. However, should the person who sends text messages to drivers also be responsible for the crash if the driver causes a car accident while reading the text message they sent? A recent case in New Jersey says yes.

According to, a New Jersey state appeals court has recently ruled that third-party texters could bear responsibility in texting-related automobile accidents. The case involved a claim against a 17-year-old girl who sent a text message to a friend before his pickup truck veered out of its lane, hitting a husband and wife on their motorcycle.

The court determined that in the state of New Jersey, third-party texters could be held liable if they knew that the person they were texting is behind the wheel. The opinion read, that, “when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving,” the opinion said, “the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.”

It is a very interesting theory, but may be difficult to prove in most cases. Also, it would be unlikely that the texter’s automobile liability coverage would cover this action, but perhaps a homeowners’ policy may.

What do you think? Should third-party texter be civilly liable for damages resulting from a car accident caused by a person they were texting?


Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. His Clearwater law firm – Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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