You Be the Judge: The Case of the Second Texter

Is the person who sends a distracting text just as responsible for 
a car accident?

By Vicki Glembocki
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine April 2014

steering wheel phoneNoma Bar for Reader’s Digest

The Verdict:

In May 2012, in a Morris County courtroom packed with reporters and TV cameras, a trial judge dismissed the case against Shannon Colonna, noting that drivers are ultimately responsible for controlling their vehicles. The Kuberts appealed. In August 2013, the appellate court upheld the ruling to dismiss the complaint against Colonna but disagreed with the trial court’s opinion on remote texters: “We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.” Weinstein, the Kuberts’ attorney, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court but later withdrew it. “The decision by the appeals court changed the law,” he explained. “Texting someone you know is driving is now a crime. We wanted it to stay that way.”

Was justice served? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Your Comments

    • Anonymous

      If I’m on a healthy diet and someone sends me a cake, are they responsible if I eat the cake? In the end, it was the drivers fault for looking at their phone while driving.

    • Michelle Ou

      One cannot possibly be involved in an accident just by sending a text since he/she could reply anytime they choose. The driver who texts or even glances at their phone should be blamed for their own actions.

    • Jo

      People need to be responsible for their own actions. You should not be texting while driving – period. Tired of stupid people blaming others for their poor decisions. Lawyers and judges just exacerbate the problem

    • Molly OKami

      If someone sends you a text, you can ignore it. Even if you can PROVE that the sender KNEW that the reader was busy at the time, the receiver is responsible for being irresponsible. The sender may send a distraction, but it’s the receiver who chooses to make it a distraction.

    • jhg6

      Unless the person texting has some sort of video surveillance in the vehicle, how would they know if the person they are texting is driving? People that have cell phones need to turn them off while driving, and only look at them when they are in a safe location. The guy that was texting, and driving, is 100% responsible for his own behavior. No one can make him look at his cell phone while he is driving, or doing anything else, for that matter.

    • AZ-Pete

      How the person sending the TXT msg know what the receiver is doing? Seems like a case of trying to share the blame…..

    • leelaa

      I also think that the new second person texting law is insane, how is one to know if the person on the other end is driving or if they will even pick up there phone. It is the responsibility of the person driving not to text or look at there phone while driving.