Can You Pursue a Distracted Driver’s Texting Partner for Liability in an Auto Accident? One Pennsylvania Judge Said Yes
One of the emerging issues in personal injury law is the issue of who’s liable when you are struck and injured by a driver who was distracted due to texting. In any personal injury case, one of the vital components of success is correctly deciding who to name as defendants in your case. In a case in which a texting driver injured you, should you sue just the other driver or the other driver and her texting partner? These questions are among the things that illustrate how an experienced Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer can help you. A recent case from Lawrence County, reported by the Washington Post, demonstrates how you may be able to proceed against more than just the other driver.
The facts underlying the Lawrence County case, as described by the Post, were tragic. A 68-year-old volunteer firefighter was driving away from his daughter’s home when he slowed to make a right-hand turn into a driveway. The driver behind him allegedly did not notice the slowing motorcycle and slammed into it from behind. The impact pinned the firefighter, and the rear driver’s Toyota Sequoia dragged the man for roughly 100 feet. The firefighter died at the scene.
After the accident, the firefighter’s family discovered that the SUV belonged to another individual and his landscaping business. Depending on the facts of your personal injury case, there may be a viable legal opportunity to pursue your case against multiple defendants. If the person who hurt you was driving a vehicle owned by someone else, you may be able to sue the owner and the driver. If the person who hit you was working at the time of the crash, you may be able to pursue your case against both the driver and the employer.
In this case, the family pursued their case against the driver and the owner of the SUV. However, they also included another person: the driver’s partner, who allegedly sent her the last text she received before she struck and killed the firefighter. After searching the woman’s phone pursuant to a warrant, the police allegedly found an open text message from the partner with a time stamp that roughly matched the time of the accident, according to the lawsuit.
All of these pieces and defendants formed the totality of the plaintiff’s case. According to the plaintiff, the SUV driver was texting when the accident took place. Her texting activities, according to the complaint, caused her to be distracted and slam into (and run over) the firefighter. The partner, the plaintiff argued, either knew or should have known that the woman was driving when he sent the text message to her, and that made him liable too.
Despite efforts by the partner to obtain a dismissal in his favor, the trial court allowed the plaintiff to proceed against all of the defendants. The trial court’s opinion stated that the judge found persuasive a 2013 New Jersey ruling, Kubert v. Best, in which that court determined that both a driver distracted by texting and the sender of the distracting text could be liable for the injuries caused by the distracted driver. One of the central aspects of that Appellate Division ruling was the court’s conclusion that a person has a legal duty not to text another person whom they know is driving or should have known was driving.
The outcome of this ruling indicates that the law is constantly evolving, potentially creating new opportunities to seek and obtain the compensation you need. If you’ve been injured by a texting driver (or any other distracted driver), you should take action right away to get the legal representation your case demands. The knowledgeable Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorneys at Needle Law Firm are here to help you hold responsible everyone whom the law says is liable for the harm you suffered. We have been providing diligent representation and personalized attention for all of our clients for many years and look forward to discussing your matter with you.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling (570) 344-1266.