On May 15, 2012, I posted a blog, which questioned whether someone could be held liable for being electronically present in an auto accident. Although the distracted driver pled guilty of texting while driving, his girlfriend claimed she was unaware that the he was driving at the time she was sending him text messages.
In this first-of-its-kind case, a New Jersey judge ultimately dismissed the case against the woman stating that she can’t be held accountable for when her boyfriend would read or respond to her text messages. The judge explained that if he was to extend liability in this case it could set in motion a “slippery slope” where any form of driver distraction – GPS, billboards, etc. could potentially be the basis for a liability claim.
The plaintiffs plan to appeal the decision. Whether they win an appeal or not, this case has drawn much attention to the dangers of texting and driving and accountability. Currently, texting while driving is illegal in 38 states. Will this case set a precedent for changes in the future; will states hold individuals who send text messages to drivers accountable in the event of an accident? I don’t think anyone would disagree that a driver who is texting while driving should be held accountable for injuries they cause to others, but what about the person who sent the text? Should the sender be deemed “electronically present” and held accountable as well? Do you think the law should state that being "electronically present" is as negligent as being "physically present"? Your comments are welcome.
Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.