Thursday, August 29, 2013

Court ruling could hold text sender responsible during texting while driving crash

Texting while driving ruling could have deep impact

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAAY) - A ruling from a New Jersey appeals court, about texting while driving, could have deep implications. This case is a little different, because it's not about the driver.

A New Jersey appeals court made a decision Thursday to hold the person who sends the text message to the driver responsible if that driver then gets into an accident and injures someone.

It's easy to do. Just send a quick text while behind the wheel. But that split second your eyes are off the road could be dangerous.

And now, you may not need to be behind the wheel to be held responsible for causing an accident while texting and driving.

Here's the case: in 2009, a New Jersey couple were severely injured when the motorcycle they were on was hit by a teenager who was texting while driving.

The injured couple sued the driver, and the driver's girlfriend, who sent him the message. The case was dismissed by lower courts.

But Thursday, an appeals court ruled someone who knowingly texts a motorist can potentially be liable if the texter knew the person on the other end was driving.

But some don't agree:

"It's still your responsibility while you're behind the wheel. If you know you're driving, don't pick up your phone. It's that simple,” said Bradley Roy.

"It's the driver's responsibility to make the choice to pick up that phone or leave it sit so I kind of think it's silly to put that back to the person who texted because unless they absolutely knew that person was driving, but still, the guy who picked up the phone shouldn't have picked up the phone,” agreed Libby Webb.

But others say when you hit the send button, and you know the person you're texting is driving, you should be held responsible, too.

"When you send it you know that they're going to look at it,” says Kristen Smart. "That would be a good law to have and then maybe people will take it more seriously,” agreed Kristen’s mother Kim.

The appeals court judges ended up dismissing the lawsuit against the girlfriend.

The court says the couple didn't show enough evidence that the girl knew her boyfriend was driving.