Douglas  E. Schwartz, Esq. - Law Offices of Foster & Mazzie, LLC
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Be Careful Before You Send That Text!

We all know that texting and driving is a bad idea. You are also likely aware that use of a handheld cell-phone to either talk to someone or to text while you are operating the vehicle is against the law.  Under our motor vehicle laws, it is illegal to use a cell phone that is not "hands-free" while driving, except in certain specifically described emergency situations.  See N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3. 
 
However, a recent opinion of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, has articulated that the sender of a text may have legal liability to an injured party if the driver of a motor vehicle reads the text and, as a result of the distraction, becomes involved in a motor vehicle accident.
 
The Court did not hold that someone texting to the driver of a motor vehicle was liable for that person's negligent actions and the court specifically noted that the driver bears responsibility for obeying the law and maintaining safe control of the vehicle.   
 
However, In Kubert v. Best, A-1128-12T4 (decided August 27, 2013), the court did find that when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.
 
A link to the unpublished edition of the case is set forth here at:
 
 
I will keep you posted as to future developments in this matter.  In the meantime, if you know that someone is driving, it's an excellent idea not to send that text!

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