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You can now be liable in NJ for texting someone you knew was driving at the time

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    So says a New Jersey court, if you texted someone and knew that that person was driving and was apt to become distracted by the text:

  2. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member

    I smell lawyers and judges.

    It sounds like a reach, and just another reason why I never want to speak to the police beyond claiming the fifth about anything.

    But if it saves one life, ok I guess. It sounds more like a way to assign blame and collect money from some other person or their insurance.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

  4. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    How could it be proven that the sender knew the receiver was driving?
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    "Did you know he was driving?"

  6. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    Means squat, though. Can't be proven.

    A sender also has no control over when a person reads a text.

    If I text someone directions to my house eight days before a party but someone accesses it on the way, am I at fault? It wasn't sent while driving.
  7. amraeder

    amraeder Well-Known Member

    Saw something about this - maybe on cnn.com - and the thing that annoyed me is that even if I know you're driving I assume you're going to read it when you're not driving. For example, if I send you a text saying "Hey, can you make sure to get pasta sauce," it seems reasonable you won't look at that until you actually get to the store.

    I'm trying to come up with a non-texting, analogous situation but failing. Closest I can come is - if I hand you a book as you get in the car, and you crash because you're dumb enough to read it while driving, I'm liable?
  8. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    This would be a good example of why texting, a new technology, needs new regulations. The analogies don't work.

    But this interpretation sounds like something that won't ever be used in real life. If I'm reading it right, it wasn't even used in this case.
  9. amraeder

    amraeder Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it wasn't used in the case - but only because (based on what I read on CNN haven't read this article) she sent 100s of texts a day and had no real knowledge of where the people where when she sent the texts.
  10. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Member

    Moreover, this will be assessed by a standard of reasonableness. One can imagine that if you have been texting back and forth with someone---and they mention they're driving or recently left your house, etc.---it is reasonable for the person sending the text message to know that the person will continue reading the text messages you're sending. And I don't think this will be impossible to prove. The standard of proof in a civil case is preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt.

    That said, for the same reason, the decision limits liability in some of the hypotheticals posited in this thread. Again, the standard is reasonableness. In order to be liable, the court said, the sender must know: a) that the recipient is driving; and 2) will read the text immediately. And the court noted that in order to meet the second prong of that test, the plaintiff would need to provide additional evidence beyond the fact that sender knew the recipient was driving---it said that a sender "should be able to assume that the recipient will read a text message only when it is safe and legal to do so, that is, when not operating a vehicle." So the hypothetical text messages about picking up pasta sauce would not make you liable, absent other circumstances.
  11. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    I've made my feelings about texting while driving pretty clear on other threads, but this seems ridiculous.

    I make an effort not to text someone if I know they are driving, but I think making it a crime is asinine. No matter how many text messages someone sends to a person who is driving, they are NEVER responsible for the driver's decision to pick up the phone. Only one person can make the decision to pick up the phone and read a text, and it is that person who is responsible for any consequences that may come as a result of that decision.
  12. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Well put.
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