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Liability: Can a remote texter be liable for a car accident?

As Pennsylvania residents know, texting can distract a driver and reduce reaction time. A driver who is negligent and causes an accident may be held liable for injuries suffered by others. Sending a text while driving can be regarded as negligent behavior, but what if you send a distracting text to a driver who then causes a car accident? Recently, a judge has made a decision on this issue.

A judge ultimately ruled that the woman who sent the text could not be found liable for the driver's car crash. The case involved a woman sending a text message to her boyfriend while he was driving. As the boyfriend was responding to the message, he hit a couple on a motorcycle. The couple suffered severe injuries.

Sources say that the woman who sent the text message argued that she did not know her boyfriend was driving. She argued that she had no control over when he would receive or respond to the message. The judge dismissed the case but cautioned that drivers face many distractions and that any form of distraction could possibly be the basis for a liability case. The boyfriend has pled guilty to distracted driving.

Texting and driving is illegal in many states across the country. This type of case may be one of the first of its kind, but it may be only a matter of time before Pennsylvania courts face a similar issue and must determine whether a texter can be held liable for a car accident.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "NJ judge: Texter not liable for driver's car crash," Andrew Duffelmeyer, May 25, 2012

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