Texting Accidents in New Jersey: Who is Responsible?
A New Jersey accident involving a pickup truck and two motorcyclists helped establish an important rule on liability when phone texting is the cause of the mishap. The May 2012 ruling by the New Jersey Superior Court judge found that the distracted driver responding to text messages was responsible for the accident, but not the person sending the messages.
This reportedly was the first time a text message sender was named in a lawsuit. And while the plaintiff trying to sue her was rebuffed in that effort, texting involved in auto accidents remains a serious problem. The use of wireless devices is widely cited for causing driver inattention, and more than 3,300 people are believed to have died while 387,000 were injured in 2011 due to text messaging, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA also has determined that at any given moment, 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices of some type while operating a vehicle.
In the New Jersey case, the two motorcyclists each lost a lower leg in the accident. Seeking compensation for their injuries, they attempted to sue both the driver of the vehicle that hit them and the sender of the text messages. Presumably, they would have been able to increase their damages award by bringing a third party into the lawsuit.
Auto accident law in New Jersey is subject to no-fault restrictions. However, in a case where the injuries are meaningful — both victims in the texting case are now amputees, which is considered a permanent disability — the damage awards can reach a threshold that allows them to sue for economic and non-economic damages.
If you or a loved one suffers injuries through the fault of another driver — due to reckless behaviors such as texting, driving too fast or driving under the influence (DUI) — contact an auto accident attorney as soon as possible.