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Personal Injury Law Blog

Should people who text drivers share the blame for accidents?

Drivers are discouraged from doing anything behind the wheel that will prove to be a distraction, and one of the most dangerous forms of distraction is text messaging. Sending a text message can take a driver’s eyes of the road for several seconds, and may take their mind off their task for even longer. Even taking a quick peek to read a text can throw a driver off-kilter enough to trigger an auto accident. But a text message isn’t a one-way communication most of the time. There is almost always someone on the other end of an exchange.

Texts are used for a wide range of purposes. They might be quick messages such as “Please stop for milk” or they could be a series of messages aimed at working out a complex issue, such as coordinating dinner plans or the kids’ schedules. Sometimes the person who is not driving has no idea that the other person is attempting to communicate via text while they are on the road. Other times, they are.

Knowing When to Wait

Since it is common knowledge that texting while driving is dangerous and usually illegal, many have called for both people involved in a text message conversation to be held accountable when a text ultimately leads to an accident — especially one that results in serious injury or death. In addition to being sued for monetary damages, some people on the non-driver side of a text have been accused of aiding and abetting and have faced criminal charges as well.

If you suspect the person you want to text might be driving, you may want to hold off sending the message until you can be confident the recipient will not try to read or answer the text while they are on the road. One of the benefits of a text message is that it doesn’t go anywhere until it is deleted. It can be dealt with when the time is safe and convenient.

Resisting Temptation

Because text messaging is a two-way communication, it seems logical to many to hold both people responsible. On the other hand, each person is ultimately in control of whether or not they read a text as soon as it comes in. Many text messaging servers and phone apps allow for an automatic response that will let people know that they are driving. In more and more cases, willingly texting someone while they are known to be driving is considered a dangerous and irresponsible practice.

Getting sued for being the person who sends the text that ultimately triggers a serious accident isn’t commonplace, but it isn’t out of the question, either. If the sender had a reasonable expectation that the recipient would be driving, especially if they were expecting an immediate answer, they could be included in a lawsuit. If you’ve been injured in an accident, particularly one that was triggered by another driver’s texting, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you figure out how to proceed with your case and obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.