While efforts to deter distracted driving should be encouraged, the enormous buzz surrounding a New Jersey court decision regarding text sender liability leaves out a very important consideration — claims will be extremely difficult to prove. In fact, it’s what ultimately led to the dismissal of the lawsuit.
The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court made headlines around the world when it held that the sender of a text message could be held liable to a third party injured by recipient in subsequent car accident. As explained in the opinion, “A person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.” This is first such decision in the United States.
The case, Kubert v. Best, centered on a horrific distracted driving accident involving a vehicle driven by 18-year-old Kyle Best and a motorcycle carrying husband and wife, David and Linda Kubert. The Kuberts both suffered serious injuries, including leg amputations. Best later acknowledged that he had been texting with his girlfriend, 17-year-old Shannon Colonna, shortly before he crossed the centerline and triggered the collision.
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