A new ruling came down today in a court case that someone who sends a text to a driver can be held responsible if that driver picks up the message and then gets into an accident. The judge claims such individuals have a special responsibility and claims that only those who know the recipient is driving and that they will pick up the message while driving will be held responsible.
Here’s the link: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/08/27/n-j-court-text-recipients-can-be-held-liable-in-texting-and-driving-accidents/
I see several problems with this.
- Why is texting any different from a phone call? If the ruling is going to be consistent with the real world the same ruling should apply to any activity someone initiates that would distract a driver including an incoming phone call, a public alert over the radio, and amber alert on a highway sign, a pretty girl on the side of the road, an interesting billboard along the highway.
- The ruling states that it would only apply if the sender of the message had special knowledge that the recipient was driving and that they would answer the message immediately. Are we now writing psychic ability into the legal code? To convict someone we would have to decide that the sender of the message could read the recipients mind and additionally that the jurors could read the senders mind.
- For those who think this law would have limited applications think again. The legal system doesn’t work that way. Lawyers sue everyone even remotely involved in the hopes of getting the biggest award possible. If there is any evidence that you sent someone a text during any time leading up to an accident you WILL be sued. They may dismiss you form the case later or drag you to the end and let a jury decide but by that time you will have lost countless nights of sleep and perhaps some money from lost days at work or legal fees.
I am against texting and driving as much as anyone but put the blame where the blame belongs, on the person who is driving and texting. This is just another example of lawyers and plaintiffs trying to increase the payout and the legal system trying to guarantee that there is always someone to blame.
Just my 2 cents… well maybe 3