A lawsuit currently in the New Jersey court system is adding a new facet to texting while driving cases. In the near future the judge in the case will decide if a person who knowingly sends a text message to someone who is driving is partially responsible for causing a car accident.
Skippy Weinstein, the lawyer for the plaintiff, is arguing that Shannon Colonna knowingly texted Kyle Best while he was driving, which caused him to sideswipe another vehicle while he read the message. Therefore, Ms. Colonna is partially responsible for the accident. Weinstein believes she was essentially aiding and abetting best in a crime (texting and driving is illegal in New Jersey).
Weinstein is using the guidelines for aiding and abetting that are defined in the Restatement of Torts that is in use by a majority of civil courtrooms. There are three components to the guideline:
- The party the defendant assists must do a wrongful act
- The party must be generally aware of his or her role in the illegal or “tortuous” act
- The party must “substantially assist” in the principal violation
The argument being put forth is that Colonna should have known Best was driving home from his workplace at the time she sent the message, and since the general use of text messaging is instant communication, this case meets these criteria for aiding and abetting.
The judge’s decision will have a lasting impact as the digital age and advancing technology progress further. It will have to be decided if not being in close proximity to the driver can really influence the drivers behavior as much as a passenger in the vehicle taking the wheel or temporarily blind folding as a joke. Both of these types of incidents have allowed passengers to be judge to be as responsible as the driver in accident lawsuits.
Texting while driving risks the lives of other drivers, bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians that share the road. Burnetti, P.A.’s texting while driving attorneys may be able to obtain maximum compensation if you or your loved one has been injured. Contact Burnetti, P.A. at 1-888-BURNETTI or fill out a Free Case Evaluation form.