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Court rules on first-of-its-kind New Jersey car accident case

Lawsuits are common after automobile accidents, especially when it is shown that one of the drivers was reckless or negligent. In such situations, car accident victims seek compensation for their injuries, as well as for lost wages, medical expenses and any pain and suffering that may have resulted from a crash.

However, a recent case in New Jersey has captured the attention of the nation and provided a twist to the typical personal injury lawsuit.

A couple was riding a motorcycle when a car collided with them. Due to the accident, the husband and wife each needed to have a leg amputated.

The 18-year-old driver of the car pleaded guilty to careless driving and texting while driving, among other charges. As part of his plea, he was fined $760 and ordered to talk about the dangers of texting while driving at 14 local high schools.

The injured couple sued not only the driver of the car, but also his girlfriend, who was miles away at the time. The husband and wife wanted the girlfriend held liable because she sent her boyfriend text messages while he was driving, resulting in his distraction. The husband and wife argued that the girlfriend was also responsible because she knew her boyfriend was driving when she sent the messages. That meant, according to the injured couple, the girlfriend aided and abetted her boyfriend's violation of New Jersey's traffic laws.

On the other hand, the girlfriend's court filings argued that the sender of a text message has no control over what the receiver is doing when he or she checks a message.

The state court recently threw out the case against the girlfriend, though the civil case against the boyfriend is expected to proceed to trial.

The injured husband and wife expressed disappointment over the recent ruling, but they will appeal because they are intent on preventing similar accidents in the future.

Source: Bloomberg News, "New Jersey Woman Who Texted Found Not Liable for Friend's Crash," David Voreacos, May 26, 2012

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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