Judge says texter not responsible for driver’s accident, throws out ‘electronically present’ claim

Should you text while driving? Of course not. But are you responsible if you text someone who is driving unbeknownst to you and that person has an accident while texting you back? \

A lawyer in New Jersey tried to convince a judge that you indeed would be. Fortunately, the judge threw the case out of court.

Fox News reported that the lawyer for David and Linda Kubert, who were seriously hurt while riding a motorcycle and struck by a car driven by Kyle Best, claimed that that Shannon Colonna was equally responsible for his clients’ injuries. Colonna had been exchanging text messages with Best when the incident occurred.

According to Fox News:

Stephen Weinstein, the Kuberts’ attorney, has argued that Colonna should have known Best was driving and texting her at the time. He argued that while Colonna was not physically present at the wreck, she was ‘electronically present,’ and he asked for a jury to decide Colonna’s liability in the case.

But Colonna testified at a deposition she didn’t know whether Best was driving at the time.

Best has pleaded guilty to distracted driving, admitting he was using his cellphone and acknowledging a series of text messages he exchanged with Colonna around the time of the accident; the content of the messages is unknown. Records show Best responded to a text from Colonna seconds before dialing 911.

State Superior Court Judge David Rand, however, said that the sender of the text should have the expectation that the person on the other end of the line will behave responsibly, and that to find otherwise would expand culpability even to a road sign.

“Were I to extend this duty to this case, in my judgment, any form of distraction could potentially serve as the basis of a liability case,” Rand said.

Weinstein, naturally, will appeal the decision.