Can You Be Sued If a Driver Reading Your Text Message Causes a Car Crash?

Judge in New Jersey to decide Friday if woman whose boyfriend seriously injured a couple in an auto accident while reading her text message can be added to lawsuit.


One of the big advantages of sending a text message as compared to an e-mail is that the text pops up on the front of someone's cellphone immediately.

So can you be held liable if the person reading that message loses control of a vehicle and injures someone?

A New Jersey judge says he will rule on that question Friday in a case involving a Dover couple who each lost a leg after their motorcycle was struck by a driver allegedly reading a text message.

According to the Daily Record, court records show that Kyle Best, who was 18 at the time, and his girlfriend, Shannon Colonna, exchanged numerous text messages on the day of the crash, including one sent just before he lost control of his pickup truck near Montville and struck a motorcycle ridden by David and Linda Kubert.

David Kubert told CBS News that it was obvious that Best was reading a text message at the time of the crash. "What I saw was a gentlemen in the truck steering with his elbows, with his head down," Kubert said. "And I could tell he was text messaging."

But the Kuberts also want to hold Colanna responsible for contributing to the crash, and have asked the judge to add her to the lawsuit.

Best's lawyer, Joseph McGlone, said that is going too far.

"Shannon Colonna has no way to control when Kyle Best is going to read that message," he told the Daily Record.

What do you think?

PSS0527 May 25, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Sadly, in this country thats the way things are. Remember the cases of people who were sueing McDonalds for making them FAT? No one is held accountable any more for their actions and they always want to share the blame. Its pathetic and childish.
Joshua Berry May 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
So can I sue the local radio station for causing my speeding ticket because they played "Radar Love"? If a car full of kids hears "Bohemian Rhapsody" and recreates the scene from Wayne's World, can they sue the DJ after their accident? Of course not. Drivers are ultimately responsible for their choices behind the wheel, whether it be speeding or not paying attention to the road because of music or phones or others in the car. As many here have stated, if the text or conversaton is that important pull over.
william peeters May 25, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I Can't Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar is what I thought of, lol
Chelsea Faith May 25, 2012 at 05:41 PM
^^ haha nice!
Joshua Berry May 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Or anything by AC/DC. This one is for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RukUetw0hAM&ob=av3e
Opinionated May 25, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Yes Herky, you are correct. As the saying goes, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Many judges stay on the beach even when their faculties have long gone south. To ESQ, some judges are so morally corrupt that they should never have been appointed in the first place. Do you believe that every decision by all judges are just and fair? A good example is the death penalty in NJ. The State Supreme Court struck down most cases. The most outrageous occurred when in Morris County, a first degree murder conviction which included the death penalty was commuted. The reason cited: the murderer did not intend to cause the death of the victim after stabbing the chest 42 TIMES. My favorite was when Robert Toricelli dropped out of the US Senate race and Frank Lautenberg was allowed on the ballot without even having to run in the primary! We just want accountability with some ethically challenged government officials.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) May 25, 2012 at 05:59 PM
To your list I would submit: the great Barenaked Ladies song, "Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sb32OICl4go
EyeOpener May 25, 2012 at 06:22 PM
tomas. I used a little bit of psychology. It will probably be too complicated to explain to you. But if you think about it long enough, I'm sure you will figure it out.
EyeOpener May 25, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Tomas. I used a little bit of psychology. If you think about it long enough, I think you'll get it.
Joshua Berry May 25, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Looks like the judge got it right http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20120525/BUSINESS/205250332/N-J-judge-Texter-not-liable-driver-s-crash?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE
nuttyprofessor May 25, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Lets wait and see what the judge decides before drawing an opinion on the judge. That said, some areas of judiciary are well known for outragious decisions. Family court is a prime example.
nuttyprofessor May 25, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I misseb berry's post. Good to see that common sense has prevailed.
Jessica Lotito May 26, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Exactly - there is no way to know when someone will read your text. It might be the same to ask a radio station to be included in a lawsuit of a car crash because the song they were playing at the time of the crash was too up-beat! Plain and simple - font freaking text and drive!!!
Darren Gladden May 26, 2012 at 02:23 AM
what's up with all the you tube post ......
Rick May 26, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Glad to see the judge ruled that the sender could not be included it the law suit. It should be the driver who answered the call/text. There is no law that says if a phone is ringing you MUST answer it. I doubt you could sue the caller if you tripped and injured yourself answer your house phone.
Ed Fitterer May 26, 2012 at 11:03 AM
The question now becomes- will the plaintiffs appeal?
Diogenes May 26, 2012 at 02:35 PM
There are several things at issue here. I believe that the most egregious injustice is that Shannon Colonna is being sued for originating the texts. By that standard, the inventor of texting, the cell phone carrier company, the manufacturer of the phone and the FCC who licenses the phones and the airwave frequencies should also be sued for their connection to texting. The point is, to paraphrase our friends who advocate for unrestricted Second Amendment rights, that cell phones don't crash, drivers do. But nevertheless, even though the judge dismissed the charge, Colonna is required to retain and pay for a lawyer to defend her. What should really happen is that if a person brings a frivilous suit such as this, and loses, they should be required to pay the defense attorney's fees and for any lost wages and inconvenience on the part of the defendant. That would curb a lot of this silliness. And while I support motorcyclist's rights to the road, My experience on the road is that the vast majority of them recklessly speed, take chances and have perfected the art of careless driving and 2. If you go onto a highway and travel at high speed on a machine that, in case of an accident, will make you a flying human projectile, I question your prudence. Please don't be offended; everyone I know who rode motorcycles was unfortunately either injured or was killed.
Rick May 26, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Kara Q How did people manage to do business or have any form of social life before cell phones? Texting is a new toy for the kiddies. They will conduct an ongoing conversation with text. Wouldn't it be easier and in some cases safer if they just talked on the phone?
tomas May 26, 2012 at 11:07 PM
How long did it take you to write the same comment twice?
John Romano May 26, 2012 at 11:17 PM
‎....based on this judge's decision......this will kill any chances of me filing a lawsuit should I receive a piece of mail from the DMV....attempt to read it while walking down some stairs while holding hot coffee, juggling chainsaws, and putting in my contact lenses...then... fall and end up scalded, armless, and blind. This common sense and personal responsibility stuff is just too much to deal with. How WILL a lawyer make ends meet?
onthecuff May 27, 2012 at 12:01 AM
I could not agree with you more. it is not her fault that she sent the message, it is his fault for entertaining it while driving. The Law states no texting or talking while driving. There is no way she should be held accountable. It was his decision to pick up his phone and read. Smart Phones are good, but people have just become super rude with them. I am a manager myself and when I conduct a meeting, no cell phones, no blackberry's nothing. Whatever is on that e-mail or whatever can wait. If its an emergency, they have the conference room number. One of my colleagues carries three phones??? But I always know when his wife is trying to get a hold of him, because they go off one after another. I finally got the support of the big boss to tell him, no more. I don't hold these meetings for my health, there for company reasons.
onthecuff May 27, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Here Here. Isn't it funny how much times have changed. I remember back when you had to write a letter, or if you wanted to hang with your friend, you called them from your home phone. Companies dealt with intranets and not the internet. I think technology is great, but its just also gone insane.... My family gets mad, because if I am working or driving or whatever, I don't answer. The person I answer to immediately is my child, because I know if he is trying to contact me, its important.. But even so, if I am in a meeting, I do NOT carry my phone with me....
onthecuff May 27, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Well I have to agree, the LAW in the State of NJ states, you must use a non hand held device ( sorry I can not think of the word I want to use ) and no texting. So bottom line no phone use. Your supposed to stay focused on the road. I find it disturbing when you see these guys driving in their police cars, chatting away on their phones. What makes them safer drivers on their phones while driving, then the average person?
onthecuff May 27, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Go for it. Why not? Heavy people sue McDonald's for getting fat. Never mind not going there to woof down that big Mac, but Sue McDonalds for offering it. Just like that woman whom burnt herself with coffee. Hey just think you can set a presendent,,,,,,LOL
onthecuff May 27, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I was coming off the Path Train one day and went into Newark. Some woman in front of me, was texting on her phone and missed the stair. She fell down two other stairs and cracked her head on the door. She is suing the Port Authority for this.... It's like UMMMM... If you were paying attention and not texting, none of this would have happened....
Joan May 27, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I agree with you. I send texts to friends and family. Sorry, but I don't carry a crystal ball to see if they're driving. UMMM who else can we blame for OUR ignorance. Maybe it's time to own up people!
GT is my home May 27, 2012 at 02:10 PM
He should have knew better then answering the text message while he was driving. It's the law.
tomas May 29, 2012 at 01:46 AM
So why would the sender get in trouble?
Curious George June 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM
GT...If you would spend less time texting and more time reading real writing, you might have more credibility when you decide to post.
Wheres Waldo June 13, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Just don't answer ur phone unless its an emergency


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »