A New Jersey appeals court ruled Tuesday that when a driver is involved in a texting while driving accident, the person they are texting with can be held liable for negligence in civil cases.
The court ruled 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."
Under the ruling, if a person receives a text message from someone they know is driving and replies with a text message, they can be held liable for negligence,
according to CBS New York
The decision reads in part, "When the sender knows that the text will reach the driver while operating a vehicle, the sender has a relationship to the public who use the roadways similar to that of a passenger physically present in the vehicle. As we have stated, a passenger must avoid distracting the driver. The remote sender of a text who knows the recipient is then driving must do the same."
It continues, "When the sender texts a person who is then driving, knowing that the driver will immediately view the text, the sender has disregarded the attendant and foreseeable risk of harm to the public. The risk is substantial, as evidenced by the dire consequences in this and similar cases where texting drivers have caused severe injuries or death."
The ruling stems from an accident in 2009 where a teenager texted her friend just before he crashed his truck into a couple on a motorcycle. The husband and wife both lost suffered serious injuries in the crash, according to Philly.com. They sued the teen who hit them, and the girl who texted the driver.
The appellate court dismissed the specific claim against the girl due to a lack of evidence, but ruled that a texter could be held liable if they know the recipient is driving.