A new court ruling supports that individuals who text someone they know is driving a motor vehicle could be held liable should the driver get into an accident. Although not announced as part of North Carolina traffic law in state court yet, in a separate jurisdiction up north in New Jersey, a ruling targets these texters.
Knowing someone is driving is defined as "special knowledge" by officials. The court upheld that texters have a "duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time." Although some may argue it is the driver's negligence for breaking a state's law and responding to a text while driving, the recent court ruling sets a glaring standard otherwise.
To avoid legal actions and help prevent accidents, refrain from text messaging any individual who you know may be driving at the time they receive your text. Encourage your friends and family to break distracted driving habits. Learn about smartphone apps for drivers that block calls and texts while a vehicle is in motion. There are legally permissable times to use a phone, while driving is not one of them. If you are involved in an accident, our Raleigh injury lawyers review smart ways to use your smartphone after an accident.
It still remains to be seen in North Carolina, but accident victims may have an added means of compensation depending if North Carolina upholds the same legal requirement of non-driving texters as other states appear to be enforcing. Based on this recent ruling, if you were hurt by a driver who was texting and there is evidence that shows the individual texting the at-fault driver knew they were behind the wheel, you and other accident victims may be able to collect additional compensation from the non-driving texter.
UPDATE - In September 2013 this texting while driving case was appealed and the appeals court ruled the non-driving texter will not be held liable, but they do have a duty to refrain from texting if they are aware the individual they are texting is driving a motor vehicle.