Woman Texting Boyfriend Not Liable For The Car Crash He Was In While Texting Back

from the common-sense-prevails dept

A few years ago, we noted the slight trend of people suing mobile operators over car crashes with drivers who were on their phones. Those lawsuits haven't gone very far, but with the rise of "texting while driving" as a big issue these days, someone apparently tried to blame a woman who texted her boyfriend for a car accident, because as he attempted to reply, he plowed into a couple on a motorcycle. The lawyer for the couple argued that the woman should have known that her boyfriend was driving at the time they were texting. Even if that was true, that hardly means she's to blame for the accident in any legal sense. Thankfully, the judge readily agreed, dismissing the case against her, and noting that the responsibility is on the recipient. Otherwise there would be some perverse results:
Rand said it's reasonable for text message senders to assume the recipients will behave responsibly, and he also noted drivers are bombarded with many forms of distraction, whether they be text messages, notifications from smartphones, GPS devices or signs along the road.

"Were I to extend this duty to this case, in my judgment, any form of distraction could potentially serve as the basis of a liability case," Rand said.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 3:16am

    Not only that.

    It would completely leave out any form of personal responsibility. There will always be a way to blame someone for anything we do.

    In this case, the woman sending the message, could blame someone else for making her send the said message.

    Is it that hard to simply assume that he made a mistake and find a way to solve the problem?

     

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  2.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 3:24am

    Obviously the couple did not have a good attorney. They failed to also sue the wireless carrier that transmitted the message and Google. You always sue Google.

    /s

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 3:27am

    Wow, common sense from the courts. Colour me stunned.

     

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  4.  
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    Mega1987 (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 3:30am

    Drives must known better than to drive as you do something.

    They guy SHOULD have just pull over to the side then reply/call back rather do it while he drives.

    It's the driver's fault for the accident, not his girlfriend who have no idea that her boyfriend was driving in the first place.

     

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  5.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 3:36am

    Re:

    Well personal responsibility is pretty much dead these days.
    There is always someone else to blame, and if you think you can get paid you sue.
    The guy who hit them won't be a windfall so lets find someone else to add to the pool.

    While the crash was horrific, the only person to actually blame is the driver who hit them.
    He decided to answer a text.
    He decided to look away from the road.
    He decided he could do this while driving.
    He made a decision that screwed up other peoples lives, but to blame the person who texted him is out there.
    Did they name the carrier, the company that made the phone, the car maker for not having text blocking technology, the state for not having enough signs telling people to not answer texts, the person who "invented" texting, the motorcycle manufacturer for not having a texting driver near you alarm.
    If you want to extrapolate out responsibility go all the way.
    The couple who were hit should sue each other for allowing each other to be on the motorcycle where they could be hit under this idea.
    But hey they plan to appeal, so obviously they don't see the flaw in their logic.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 3:41am

    This is rich... clearly the jackass behind the wheel was being stupid and irresponsible, and I have to wonder whose idea it was to sue the girlfriend in the first place and why.

    That said, it's a good thing the judge had the common sense to throw it out. Imagine if he allowed it, where would the burden of proof be for other texting and driving cases? Is everyone who ever texts someone potentially liable if the person they're texting might be driving and stupid enough to text them back before getting where they're going? And speaking of other distractions, clearly we should sue the victims the next time an inexperienced driver gets target fixation and runs over someone. I mean, they must be liable for the driver's distraction since they were the source of it.

    In fact, if someone was permitted to sue me for texting someone while driving, I'd probably sue them back for being an obstacle to the driver, because they'd be at least as at fault as I would be.

     

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  7.  
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    Richard (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 3:50am

    I've never..

    I've never met a motorcyclist who didn't have a limp.

    When two motorcyclists meet they will start discussing their accidents.

    Seriously, riding a motorcycle is asking for trouble. In this case the driver may be at fault - but if you ride a motorbike it is only a matter of time before you have a serious accident.

    In my book riding a motorcycle in itself amounts to contributory negligence.

     

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  8.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 3:50am

    Re:

    Even if she was aware he was driving, she can not be held liable for his decision that the text chime on his phone needed to be looked and and handled while driving.

    I would hope that no one stops and thinks, oh could they be driving when they send a text, email, or make a call to someone else. We'd never make contact ever again.

    People getting contacted have to make the right decisions.
    If you have a headset, answer the call or wait... we have voicemail. If its really important they will keep calling and calling till you pickup.
    If you have text to speech features, use them.
    If none of the above pull over, or check at the next light.
    But not while the car is in motion...

    Here is another example of what can happen if we do the wrong thing, it is terrible and tragic... but many of us sometime this week will answer a call or a text in the car this week. "It'll never happen to me"... and we hope it won't but when it does there is no one to blame but yourself.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 4:00am

    Re: I've never..

    Walking and bicycling as well?

    We are only safe if we surround ourselves with tons of metal and plastic and speed along at 60+ MPH?

    I think you have it backwards.
    Tons of metal hurtling along is much more dangerous than a few hundred pounds worth.

    What is easier to turn? To stop? 18 wheeler or bicycle?

     

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  10.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    Sue God, he is responsible for putting sunlight in the other side of the tunnels thus obfuscating the drivers as they leave the darker environment. Bad God I tell you.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 4:23am

    Re: Re: I've never..

    That there is pretzel logic, I don't care who you are. Ain't none of it safe, we're hurtling through space at over 500,000mph when you take into account all the different velocities we experience. This whole thing's a crap shoot.

    What's easier to stop? A bicycle hit by an 18 wheeler, of course.

     

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  12.  
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    arcan, May 30th, 2012 @ 4:34am

    standard person blaming anyone but themselves for something. check. nothing more to do here.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 4:37am

    Re: Re:

    I came for the lively discussion on liability, but I stayed for TAC's free verse liability-based poetry.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re: Re: I've never..

    "That there is pretzel logic..."

    At least it provides food for thought.

    /ducks

     

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  15.  
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    relghuar, May 30th, 2012 @ 5:03am

    Kudoz to the lawyer

    ... for trying to make our streets safer. Personally, I think he didn't go far enough. He should have sued all driver's family members, because their existence definitely presented a distraction! We really need some reliable studies showing how much drivers' mental capacity is uselessly (and dangerously!) occupied by thinking about their family members. I'd certainly feel a lot safer if no one with any family members could ever drive a car!

     

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  16.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 5:04am

    Re:

    Nope, the driver who hit them was at fault.
    The girl texting the guy driving is not at fault.

     

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  17.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    texting while driving
    it's a stupid thing to do
    free verse and haiku

    .... burma shave

     

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  18.  
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    arcan, May 30th, 2012 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re:

    that is what I meant... the driver is trying to blame anyone but himself for his accident.

     

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  19.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 5:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The couple who were hit are the ones who sued the girl who texted the driver as well as the driver.

     

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  20.  
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    Overcast (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 6:03am

    He was the one driving - his fault, totally.

    Smart - Not only crashed up your car, but ditched your girlfriend too, lol, what a tool!

    Unless she's stupid enough to stay - then it would seem they are made for each other...

     

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  21.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 6:56am

    I can only assume that the people who were hit, after meeting both the woman who sent the text and the guy who was replying back to it, figured that the woman had more money they could sue for, and therefor figured they'd get more money if the tried shaking her down as well. Thankfully it failed.

     

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  22.  
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    Boost, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:26am

    Re:

    *Color* This is 'merica!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    technically that's more of a senryu...

     

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  24.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: I've never..

    This whole thing's a crap shoot.

    That's the key. Bicycling, for example, would certainly be safer if everyone was doing it - but on a road shared with cars not so much. And whatever vehicle you choose, you can be the finest driver in the world with lightning-fast reflexes, and it's still always possible for some other idiot to kill you in the blink of an eye without giving you even an instant to react.

     

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  25.  
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    Ban Bikes, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:53am

    Re: I've never..

    I completely agree. The boyfriend is responsible for causing the accident, but the couple on the bike are responsible for their injuries.

    Road accidents are common, and I'm pretty sure everyone has one in their lifetime. Also, humans are fallible, mistakes happen... a moment of distraction, bad judgement... it happens to everyone and nobody can prevent it, even if the law assumes we can be perfect if we simply try to be.

    So knowing how likely accidents are and that most accidents aren't caused by sheer stupidity but simply by the fact that humans occasionally make mistakes, people who ride bikes are just taking a very unreasonable risk, and they should take responsibility for it.

    I do not want to take responsibility for those who choose unreasonably unsafe vehicles.

    Bikes are unsafe, they don't belong on roads, they should be banned. As simple as that.
    How come cars require the use of seat-belts by law, but bikes are fine to drive? Driving a car without wearing a seat-belt is still way safer than riding a bike!

    The only reason we still have bikes on roads is because bikers are a huge and vocal group. It's really really hard to force some common sense on such a group by banning their bikes from public roads.

    If I ever get involved in an accident with a bike, I'm suing the biker even if I'm responsible for the accident. At the very least I'll sue because the sight of his injuries or the guilt I feel for my involvement caused me strong emotional distress, and he could have prevented that by driving a safer vehicle like a car. You're all warned.

     

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  26.  
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    Ban Bikes, May 30th, 2012 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re:

    They're responsible for driving an unsafe vehicle that common sense dictates should not be on roads in the first place.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re:

    Don't forget the school board...

     

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  28.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: I've never..

    Bikes are unsafe, they don't belong on roads, they should be banned. As simple as that.
    How come cars require the use of seat-belts by law, but bikes are fine to drive? Driving a car without wearing a seat-belt is still way safer than riding a bike!


    As a cyclist in a busy city core, I think cars are unsafe and don't belong on dense downtown roads, and should be banned there. Unfortunately, it's not "as simple as that"

    I gave my car up shortly after moving to the city, and I'd much rather share the road with motorcycles than cars. Cars encourage a sense of immunity and entitlement when driving, whereas smaller vehicles encourage self-awareness and road-sharing. Keep cars in the suburbs, the country, and dedicated arteries of the city - and leave the bulk of urban roads to people with more space-efficient vehicles.

    That's a lovely thought, to me. And about as realistic as banning motorcycles.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I've never..

    It would help if bicyclists also obey the laws too. I hear bicyclists constantly moaning about bad drivers that don't pay attention and cut them off... Yet I see bicyclist run red lights, zig-zag through cars, etc. putting themselves in dangerous situations all the time where drivers need to react fast to avoid hitting them.

    The other thing I love, is after all the bitching cyclists do, a lot of them treat pedestrians as bad as drivers treat bikes. As a pedestrian, I'm constantly on the look out for bad drivers and bicyclists that keep trying to run me down.

    Yes, I know there are a lot of bad pedestrians too that jaywalk and put themselves in danger too.

    Bottom line, everyone would be safer if everyone would pay attention and drive/bike/walk in a safe manner. But since it seems most people only care about themselves, we'll constantly have these injuries/deaths.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: I've never..

    Cars are safer? You really think that? I ride a paratransit bus everywhere, being physically unable to drive. You think those cars watch out for me? No, they ignore the big ass bus they just cut off and keep going, even if the bus has to take the ditch to keep from killing the idiot in the car. The bikes are not the problem. Uncaring, inattentive drivers are the problem, no matter what they drive.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Common sense tells me you're not a very good driver, so you probably should stop driving.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re:

    Sorry... "Color" has been trademarked and copyrighted by one of the media conglomerates selling smartphones...

    Parents will no longer be allowed to ask their kids if they want to 'color', they will now have to ask if their kids would like to apply colored dye to paper using marking objects.

    Coloring books will now be referred to as "Line drawing books that allow empty spaces to be filled with colored dye by users".

    If Color can be trademarked, what's next? Crayon? Pencil? Eraser?... oh crap, that one was already a movie, I'm going to get the DMCA hammer bigtime for that one...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 5:53pm

    Re:

    From skimming what happened to the couple who was hit, I believe he lost a large part of his leg and there was lots of hospital time, I can totally understand the anger at the girl. If she hadn't texted him, BF wouldn't have hit us...

    What I can't understand is a lawyer who didn't explain to them there is no liability that would stick to the girl. Instead they wasted time and resources trying to get her in court as well. Of course it occurs to me she might have been at home and they were suing her to try and add another insurance company to the party.

    The driver who hit them, didn't exactly get the super sentence for being an idiot they would have liked either. Less than $1k in fines, community service talking about how hes an idiot, and still gets to drive. (IIRC)

    I'm not even sure they ever met the girl who texted him until court time. I am sure the accident reconstruction now as a standard thing looks to see cell phone activity for the time before the crash. He was trying to complete the text just before the accident and dialing 911.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 3:24am

    Re: Re: I've never..

    Might is right?

    If I drive a bigger truck than you I can sue you for the distress you cause me for driving puny vehicle?

    "So knowing how likely accidents are and that most accidents aren't caused by sheer stupidity but simply by the fact that humans occasionally make mistakes, people who ride bikes are just taking a very unreasonable risk, and they should take responsibility for it."

    Most roads started as game trails and/or foot paths; Motorized vehicles have no business being on them.
    Now take responsibility for your mistakes.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Social Media Company, May 31st, 2012 @ 2:12pm

    The driver should be responsible for his own actions. However, if people knew they could be held liable for text people who are on the road, less people would do it thus being preventative action.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 9:08pm

    Re:

    Huge problem with an idea like that is simply: how is the one sending the text supposed to know the other person is on the road at the time they send it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Ariel Adley, May 31st, 2012 @ 11:44pm

    In texting, both part should be responsible.Asked your recipient if where he/she is before sending too much text messages. Be ware enough that through phones, many accidents happen. Think also that once you reply some text messages, make sure that you are in a right place and time. Be responsible enough to yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 1st, 2012 @ 1:34am

    Re:

    Much simpler way of handling it:

    -Party A sends text to Party B.
    -Party B realizes they are in what could be a dangerous situation, should they respond to text from Party A at that time, and puts off replying until in a safe situation/place.
    -Problem solved, potential disaster averted, and cheese for everyone, unless they don't like cheese, in which case the lack of cheese is to be celebrated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jun 2nd, 2012 @ 2:03am

    Re: Re:

    You knew you were arguing with SEO tricksters trying to improve their website rankings right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Train Simple, Jun 10th, 2012 @ 11:28pm

    Simple Training

    Mobile phones are a very good product of technology but everybody should be responsible enough in using it. Many accidents like this are already happen and hope that we should be put it in our mind.

     

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  41.  
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    Jannatul Shumi (profile), Jun 13th, 2012 @ 12:08am

    Need to Concious

    I think sometimes boys should also be more conscious while driving.As the girl friend always does not know where is he,she may text to her boyfriend but that it is not required all time to reply back her. So i think the boys should think about this.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:26am

    I have to say, those of you protesting this are most irritating.

    How often during texting does "what I am doing" get transmitted? Probably often enough so that his girlfriend KNEW he was driving somewhere.

    THAT, is the point; you "personal responsibility avoiders." This isn't about the guy avoiding responsibility, it is about punishing the secondary sources. To correct a behaviour, you have to attack it from all sides, if only ONE other person could have stopped the accident, they should have.


    Now shush and actually read the lies you write, "the only way to stop texting and driving is to not text and drive" is a pathetic example of deferred responsibility.

    Fact is that EVERYONE shares some level of burden. The networks for not growing a backbone and shutting cell-service down if going faster than a specific speed. The "We want to argue about the first amendment because we've never lived in anything else, yet only want to cause riots because of having no importance in life" people who seriously need to be 'silenced' (as they so fear.) The People who text regardless of knowing, hell blame the movie industry for making it "socially acceptable" for talking on a cellphone, and I've seen a few instances of texting in common media.

    This crud is what happens because society doesn't give a damn, and NONE of you have ANY personal responsibility. So go away. I hate you all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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