The Law Firm of Leisawitz Heller

Case links person who sent message to distracted driver lawsuit

Those in Berks and throughout Pennsylvania who spend any time on the road as a driver, motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian will know that there are others on the road who do not pay strict attention to what they are doing. The phenomenon of being a distracted driver was once limited to certain activities such as changing a radio station, eating or talking to a passenger. In today's world, with smartphones and the ability to multitask, there are an endless number of ways to be distracted. This is causing a great number of accidents. Seeking compensation after an accident due to a distracted driver is common. However, the circumstances under which this takes place are constantly changing. A new case exemplifies that.

A legal filing is trying to garner compensation not just from a driver who was distracted and had a fatal crash, but from the individual who sent the distracting text message in the first place. The accident occurred in May of 2013 when a man was riding his motorcycle and was hit by an SUV. After the motorcycle accident, he was dragged and died. As they conducted their investigation, law enforcement found that the female driver of the SUV had just gotten a text message prior to the crash.

The family of the accident victim waited until the criminal case was settled, and then decided to file a lawsuit not just against the SUV driver, but against the person who sent the text. The idea of secondary responsibility is an attempt to hold others who might have played a role in the incident responsible. A case in New Jersey was cited as a precedent as the state Superior Court implied that the sender of the text could be deemed liable if they were aware or had reason to believe that the recipient was driving.

This is an unusual attempt on the part of a family that lost a loved one in a crash to receive compensation because of a distracted driver. Those who have had a similar situation with an injury or fatality due to an accident with a driver who was not paying attention to the road might want to consider this as a possible strategy. Speaking to an attorney who is experienced in cases involving an inattentive driver can be useful in determining whether to expand the filing in this way.

Source:, "Texting & Driving: Can Sender Be Held Liable In Crash?," Heather Abraham, Feb. 10, 2017

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