The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Supreme Court just ruled that senders of text messages that distract drivers may be liable for causing car wrecks, if the sender knows the recipient is behind the wheel and likely to actually look at the message when it comes in.
The Court explained:
We are not persuaded by plaintiffs' arguments as stated, but we also reject defendant's argument that a sender of text messages never has a duty to avoid texting to a person driving a vehicle. We conclude that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving. But we also conclude that plaintiffs have not presented sufficient evidence to prove that Colonna had such knowledge when she texted Best immediately before the accident.
Kubert v. Best, Docket No. A-1128-12T4 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2013)(emphasis added).
This isn't necessarily the law in Montana, yet. And the New Jersey court did not say senders are liable just for messaging a person who may turn out to be driving when the text arrives. In New Jersey, the sender must have special reason to know the recipient will be driving, and also that the recipient is likely actually to view the text on a phone or other device while driving.
Read the decision here: