States across the country are cracking down on distracted driving. Just last week, Alabama cleared another hurdle towards passing a law that would criminalize driving while holding a cell phone.
But have you ever thought about the liability you may cause if you are texting with someone whom you know is behind the wheel. This case turned ugly for a driver – and a texter in Indiana.
David and Linda Kuber were out for an afternoon ride on their motorcycle when rounding a curve, David saw a pickup truck headed straight for them. There was not time, nor anywhere to swerve, and the truck struck them. When David came-to on the side of the road, he saw that one of his legs had been severed. Linda had to have one of her legs amputated later that night in surgery.
18-year old Kyle Best had just left his job as a lifeguard at the local YMCA and was the driver of the truck. An investigation showed that he had sent a few texts while in the parking lot before heading to his parents’ house for dinner. While driving, he sent two texts, the last one a mere eight seconds before he dialed 911 to report that he had been in an accident with a Harley motorcycle.
In court, the Kubers won their case, but their attorney didn’t stop there. He investigated the person with whom Best had been texting while driving that day. In a first-of-its-kind lawsuit, the attorney claimed that 17-year old Shannon Colonna, Best’s girlfriend was also liable for the crash because she was aiding and abetting by being “electronically present” in the car that day.
A judge dismissed the case against Colonna, and the Kubers appealed. The appellate court upheld the lower court’s ruling but stated, “We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be held liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew that the recipient would be reading the text while driving”.
The Kubers were satisfied with this ruling because, as their attorney explained, “The decision by the appeals court changed the law. Texting someone you know is driving is now a crime.”
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