Can you be held responsible if you text someone who you know is driving and then that person gets into an accident and injures someone?

That’s exactly the situation that has popped up in a Morris County courtroom. In 2009, a married couple from Morris County, David and Linda Kubert, each lost a leg in a serious accident after their motorcycle was side-swiped by a pickup truck driven by Kyle Best. Best admitted that he was looking at an incoming text message just before the crash. The plaintiffs filed suit against Best, but, in an unprecedented move, they also sued Shannon Colonna, the sender of the text message.

The plaintiffs sued Colonna on the belief that she knew the driver’s routine and would have known that the driver was driving home from work at the time she sent the text message. Depositions revealed that Colonna and best exchanged more than 20 texts while he was working and then two more texts five hours later when he was driving home.

The issue is intriguing to say the least: is Colonna liable for the injuries that the plaintiffs suffered in the accident even though everyone agrees that she was not physically present at the time of the accident? Or is Colonna responsible for the accident because her actions created an electronic presence that contributed to the actual happening of the accident? This is a significant issue, and as far as I can tell, this issue has not been decided before in the New Jersey courts.

Stayed tuned – the case is pending before Superior Court Judge David Rand. It is scheduled to be decided on May 25th.  The outcome could have far-rearing consequences in personal injury cases across New Jersey.

Stephen Di Stefano is an attorney in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Di Stefano.