N.J. appeals court: those who knowingly text drivers can be sued for crashes

“In a case of first impression, a New Jersey appeals court has held that a remote texter can be held liable to third parties for injuries caused when the distracted driver has an accident,” if the third party has reason to know that the text will be read while driving. The court upheld a lower court ruling finding that not enough proof of such knowledge had been offered to defeat a motion for summary judgment. [ABA Journal, earlier here and here; related, Stoll] A different view: Eugene Volokh.


  • It is hard to tell whether the NJ Appeals Court is being stupid or evil (probably both). The only person responsible for an accident is the driver of the car. Nobody forces the driver to respond to a text message while driving. If the driver makes the decision to do something that is reckless then the driver is at fault period. If this ruling stands then lawyers for the victim will routinely subpoena the phone companies to see if anyone sent a text message to the driver around the time of the accident and then sue the individual(s) as accessories to the accident. It will then be up to the individual to prove that they didn’t know the person they sent a text to was driving. Good luck with that.

  • My phone stays in my purse when I’m driving, and I wait till I’m stopped to check any texts or messages. Not because of any law, just because I’ve always done that.

    I don’t care how many times someone texts me while I’m driving, they can’t MAKE me reach over, pick up my phone, and take my eyes off the road to read their message.

    To quote the lovely and sagacious Rachel Jeantel, “That’s retarded, sir.”

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