The California car accident attorneys have always emphasized the importance of putting away your cell phone and focusing on the task of driving at all times. We all know that texting and driving is illegal in California and that texting drivers, in addition to facing criminal penalties, can also be sued for negligence in civil court. Well, get this. Soon, you could be sued just for texting a driver.
Drivers on cell phones killed 404 people in the U.S. in 2014. They’ve faced jail time and civil lawsuits for their actions. But what about those people who were at the other end of those conversations? Could they be held financially responsible for a fatal or injury crash, if they are knowingly texting or calling someone who is driving? Although there have been no known cases where a person texting a driver has faced criminal charges or civil action, few recent cases suggests that the law is heading in that direction.
Examples of Cases
In 2013, a New Jersey couple that lost their legs after being hit by a teen driver who was texting and driving tried to sue another teen who was texting the driver. The trial and appellate courts dismissed the lawsuit, but the Superior Court rejected the defense’s claim that the sender of the message should not be liable at all. The court said that if the sender of the message knew that the recipient was driving, then the sender “has taken a foreseeable risk” in sending the text at that time.
In other words, the sender has deliberately engaged in distracting behavior. In another case, in March, the family of a Pennsylvania man killed by a texting driver asked a court if the men she was texting with could be held liable too. The court gave them the go- ahead. So, while it is less likely that the person on the other end of a texting conversation will face criminal charges, it seems increasingly possible that injured victims or families of deceased victims could potentially file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against these individuals.
Holding Wrongdoers Accountable
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, particularly if it involved a distracted driver, cell phone records might become a critical piece of evidence. This is why it is crucial to get an experienced California car accident attorney on your side who can stay abreast of the investigation and preserve all important pieces of evidence that can help bolster and prove your claim.