Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney – The Complexity of Texting and Driving Cases
The responsibility of texting and driving accidents has predominantly been on the driver. However, recent developments in Pennsylvania law look to expand the pool of people who are liable for resulting car accidents. A Philadelphia personal injury attorney can assist you in the event you have been in an accident, and help you understand your legal rights and options.
A Pennsylvania judge recently determined that two people, accused of texting a driver right before a deadly car crash, were properly included with the driver as defendants in the case. Similarly, another case was filed by the victim in a serious car accident against Snapchat. The victim was rear-ended by someone who was taking a Snapchat at the time of the crash.
A New Kind of Liability
Such cases illustrate that a new form of liability is becoming more common in Pennsylvania: third party liability for texters in car accidents. The cases allow plaintiffs to seek recovery from more people, and also significantly expand potential liability to anyone who sends a text. Both cases illustrate two new developing areas of law, liability against third-party texters and third-party app developers.
The Pennsylvania cases follow a 2013 appellate decision from New Jersey which recognized a similar cause of action against third parties in car accident litigation. However, while the court acknowledged the text to be a cause of the accident, it did not allow the cause of action to proceed in the underlying case because the texter was unaware the recipient was driving at the time.
While the Pennsylvania case set a high bar for plaintiffs to succeed against third parties, it does allow lawsuits which could have significantly increased pools of defendants. In essence, everyone who sends a text could potentially become a defendant in a lawsuit. Furthermore, even if the person is found not liable, he/she is still required to appear in court, hire a lawyer, and produce evidence that he/she lacked knowledge the driver was behind the wheel.
The judge provided the following three factors that the plaintiff must prove to establish liability:
- The driver was texting (and therefore distracted);
- The other person was aware, or should have been aware, that the driver would likely read the text while operating the vehicle; and
- The third party assisted in the violation.
Call Alfred Abel Law Offices for a Knowledgeable and Skilled Personal Injury Attorney
Alfred Abel Law Offices, an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney, warns that this ruling represents a dramatic expansion in liability for texting and driving violations. A personal injury lawyer can go over the various ways in which these changes might influence your case. For further questions, please contact Alfred Abel Law Offices today.