Texting and Driving -- Is the Remote Sender Liable?

Arthur C. Kosieradzki - SiebenCarey "Know Your Rights" AttorneyAugust 21, 2014

Texting and driving is dangerous. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not paying attention to the facts. Approximately 500,000 people are injured a year because of this problem. Everyone should realize that if you text and drive the consequences will be your responsibility. But what about sending a text to someone driving? Is that person liable? Before we get into this liability issue, let's take a moment and think about what could happen. 

If you are involved in a text exchange with someone you know is driving, that person will be taking their eyes off the road. And most importantly, if someone is texting and driving the chance of destroying a life has just gone up 23 times from when they are not texting. So why do we want to engage in behavior that could take a mother away from her child, leave someone disabled or end in some other catastrophic result? I hope the answer is you don't. 

Back to liability. If you do choose to engage in texting someone while they are driving, who is liable if something happens? The law is clear that the driver will be responsible. The issue of the sender is a question that hasn't been addressed before. There is no legal answer in Minnesota at this time. In this state we have concept called comparative fault. Comparative fault means a jury decides the percentage of fault on each involved party and each party is then responsible for their percentage. Before fault is apportioned the court must find a legal duty on the potential wrongdoer. 

Does the remote texter have a legal duty to the injured party thereby creating potential liability? Although there is no answer, the case will surely come to pass at some time in the future. I think the answer may rest in the facts. The first question is did the remote texter know the other person was driving. If they clearly did, I think the possibility of both duty and liability could exist. 

So here's a question for you, why do it? If you know that someone is driving don't text them risking their life, someone else's life and possibly yours. Watch this video called The Last Text and think about it.

If you have legal questions feel free to email me at art@knowyourrights.com or call me at 952-469-2288.

Art Kosieradzki

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