Liability in NJ Texting-While-Driving Claims Stops with the Driver
Many accidents involve only two parties — a driver whose negligence caused the accident and an individual who suffered injuries because of the negligence. However, many accidents may involve liability on the part of multiple parties — for example, in the following circumstances:
- Drivers who rear-end vehicles in front of them because their vehicles were pushed from behind by other drivers
- Motorists who drive away from a shop that provided faulty brake repairs and then fail to stop behind another vehicle
- Individuals who fail to observe road conditions and strike another vehicle when passengers distract them from fully focusing on their driving
Personal injury claims filed by the victims of these accidents must identify all liable parties. But a recent claim may have gone too far, leading a New Jersey judge to deny the right to go against someone who was not even at the accident scene.
The May 2012 decision stemmed from a 2009 case involving a 19-year-old driver who crashed into a motorcycle while responding to a text message from his girlfriend. Both the motorcyclist and a passenger on the motorcycle were severely injured. According to ABC News, after the plaintiff’s attorney amended the original complaint to include the girlfriend, the judge rejected any liability on the part of the girlfriend. He found no legal aiding and abetting on her part. Moreover, the concept of establishing liability for an individual who caused distractions while not in the car had never been addressed in any previous lawsuits.
In spite of the judicial decision, the lawyer who made the complaint did the right thing in trying to protect the rights of his severely injured clients. A New Jersey personal injury lawyer must identify all parties whose negligence contributed to accidental injuries. Filing claims against multiple defendants holds each one accountable for his or her contribution to a collision. It also helps ensure injured parties have the best opportunity to pursue the full compensation they need to avoid paying out of pocket for the expenses related to their injuries.