A New Jersey appellate court this week held that the sender of a text message can be held liable for causing an auto accident if the sender knew or had reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and become distracted. While the case is not binding law in Florida, it did make national news, and could be persuasive in Florida courts, especially on the heels of Florida’s recent law banning texting while driving.
The New Jersey claim seemed to allege that the person sending the text should be treated like someone sitting next to and willfully distracting the driver/recipient of the text message, according to the CNN story.
One of the most basic rules of the road is that a driver must be attention to what he is doing at all times. When a driver is distracted, which the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) defines as “any mental or physical activity that takes the driver’s focus off the task of driving,” the chances of a crash happening increase greatly. The FDOT Website states that in 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in reported distracted driving motor vehicle crashes. Statistics like these are what have prompted lawmakers to outlaw texting while driving.
At Steinger, Iscoe & Greene, we investigate all potential causes for an auto accident. We act quickly following a traffic crash, obtaining the police report, witness statements, property damage and accident site photographs, and of course, cell phone records. Not a week goes by without one of our new clients telling us the person who hit them was on the phone at the time of the crash. Under the right circumstances, cell phone records proving a driver was texting while driving could not only prove they were at fault, but also allow our personal injury attorneys to ask a court to award punitive damages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, let the Florida personal injury attorneys of Steinger, Iscoe, & Greene go to work for you. We offer free consultations and a No Fee Guarantee. Call Steinger, Iscoe & Greene today.
– Written by Steinger, Iscoe & Greene Attorney, Howard Weiztner, Esquire