June 1, 2012

With no prior legal precedent found on the subject, a trial court judge recently declined to impose liability on a person for sending texts to a motorist which were received just moments before a crash. The action came in a civil lawsuit against the texter for aiding and abetting the car accident, which occurred on Sept. 21, 2009. Though not an Oregon decision, the case could have a nationwide impact.

A 19-year-old driver operating a truck was traveling home after giving swimming lessons at a local YMCA. After he lost control of the truck, it swerved across the yellow line in the road and collided with a married couple on their motorcycle. The husband’s left leg was severed in the accident, while the wife’s left leg was seriously injured and later amputated.

The couple claimed that the teen motorist, just before the accident, was distracted from the road by answering a text from a 17-year-old female friend; because she was electronically engaged with the driver, the couple said she was at least partially to blame for the accident. They also stated their belief that she knew or should have known that the driver was behind the wheel when she sent the text. The driver and his friend had exchanged three texts in the eight minutes prior to the collision. The two exchanged a total of 69 texts that entire day.

The couple can still proceed with their damage claims against the driver, but the judge’s action dismissed their claims against his friend.

Source: New Jersey Law Journal, “No Liability Found for Sending Texts to Driver Just Before Crash,” Mary Pat Gallagher, May 25, 2012


Categories: Blog