(WSYR-TV) -- We all know texting and driving is illegal, but a lawyer in New Jersey is making the case that sending a text to someone who is driving could make you liable if there’s an accident.
The case involves a teenager who veered off the road, reading a message on his phone. Two people were severely injured and are suing the girl who sent the text, claiming she likely knew her friend was driving.
NewsChannel 9 asked Syracuse resident Melissa Truax if she ever texted anyone she knew might be driving. She said, “I do that all the time. I know that she is driving, but I know that she is smart enough to pick up the phone when she’s not.”
One legal argument says you could be helping someone violate the law, if they do pick up the phone.
Local attorney Kim Zimmer says, "The judge here, in considering this case, is going to be charting new territory. So there is not going to be a lot of legal precedent out there."
If the judge accepts the case, the jury would have to believe the sender was aware of the risk and played a substantial role in violating the rules. We were hard pressed to find people who agree with the lawsuit.
Jamesville resident Joanie Derrenbacker told NewsChannel 9, “He made a bad choice. She made a bad choice. But, he's responsible because he's the person who hit the other party."
DeWitt resident Marilyn McKnight said, “I do no texting. I don’t plan to do any texting and I think it’s unnecessary.”
"I think lawyers are interested in other people's money and if there is an opportunity to sue somebody, well in this society, that seems to be happening more than normal,” said Jamesville resident Bob Derrenbacker.
With smartphones now able to provide instant e-mail, social media, and of course phone calls, the implications reach far beyond texting. Zimmer doesn't believe the New Jersey suit will prevail. But, she does think it's an example of how the law is adapting to new issues in a high-tech world.
“That's the job of judges, is to find out where has it gone too far and where is the line? That's what we'll see happen in the law in the years coming as people try to bring claims based on this,” Zimmer said.