In a `texting while driving' ruling which could have deep implications, a New Jersey appeals court said on Thursday that the person sending a text message to a motorist - knowing that the motorist is driving - can be potentially liable for a driving crash which leads to injuries.
To put it differently, the texter who sends a message to a driver will be responsible for distracted driving on the driver's part, especially if the texter is aware of the fact that the receiver of the message is behind the wheel.
The ruling implies that the responsibility of causing an accident while texting and driving can fall on a person who may not actually be driving a vehicle, but may have distracted the driver by sending a text message.
The ruling by the New Jersey appeals court comes in connection with a 2009 case which was dismissed by lower courts. The case was filed by an injured couple who had sued a teenage driver and his girlfriend who had sent him a text message. The couple had filed the lawsuit after they received severe injuries because the motorcycle that they were riding on was hit by a teenage driver who was texting while driving.
In its ruling, the New Jersey appeals court said that "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."
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