Jones & Swanson

New Texting and Driving Liability Possibilities

Because we represent so many victims of automobile crashes, the attorneys and staff members at Jones & Swanson understand the risks of distracted driving. Potentially the most common form of distracted driving is that of texting while behind the wheel.

Recent news reports have detailed instances in which drivers that cause a collision are held responsible solely because it was discovered they were texting while driving. Phone records are discoverable and show time stamps for text messages sent, which makes it easier for personal injury plaintiff attorneys to prove negligence and therefore win compensation for their clients.

This may not be surprising news to most Georgians, as warnings not to text and drive are rampant in today’s society. But what about the person sending messages to the person who is driving? Should they be held responsible for an automobile crash caused by the driver they are sending messages to, especially if they knew that he or she was driving at the time? A New Jersey court says that it is now possible.

In September of 2009, an 18 year old caused a serious automobile-motorcycle collision because he and his 17 year old girlfriend were exchanging text messages while he was driving. The 18 year old crossed the center line and struck a motorcycle carrying a married couple head on. Both of the motorcycle passengers lost their legs, causing much suffering and loss. Phone records proved that Best sent a text message exactly 17 seconds before he dialed 911 to report the crash. Instead of simply filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, they included his girlfriend in the suit as well because they believed she was also responsible for the accident by distracting the driver. The couple settled their case against the driver and lost against the girlfriend, but only because they could not prove that she knew her was driving at the time of sending the text messages to him. On Tuesday of this week, three New Jersey appeals court judges ruled that if the person sending text messages knows the addressee is driving, they may be held responsible for distracting the driver and therefore partially liable for any accident that occurs.

To many, this may be an intimidating possibility. How many of us text friends, family, or loved ones throughout the day without knowing whether they’re driving or not? In the event that they cause a crash because they were distracted by text messages you sent, it may soon be possible to hold you partially liable. Do you think this is fair? If so, how to you believe courts will determine whether senders knew the recipient was driving at the time of the text?

As Marietta automobile wreck attorneys, we urge you to put your phone away while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Too many Georgians are seriously injured or lose their lives simply because another driver couldn’t wait to send a text message. No text is worth a life.

Attorneys Andrew Jones and Chase Swanson represent personal injury plaintiffs across the state of Georgia in a variety of practice areas, but automobile accidents are their specialty. If you or someone you know are injured in a crash and suspect that the other driver was texting at the time of the accident, it is important to seek legal help as soon as possible after seeking medical treatment. Experienced injury attorneys understand the necessary steps to acquiring phone records so that liability can be proven. For more information or for a free auto accident consultation, contact our firm today at (770) 427-54978 or online at

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