Author: Chris Tieke, Contributing Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review
Kubert v. Best: New Jersey creates a new duty for a person sending a text to the driver of a vehicle.
Many states already make it illegal to text message while driving. However, in August a New Jersey court of appeals took an additional, drastic step to curb the dangers of texting and driving. In the case of Kubert v. Best, the court held that “the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the text sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.” Although the intent of the court to address the prevalent danger of texting and driving is laudable, the decision is far from clear regarding the burden of proof a plaintiff carries going forward. Additionally, the standard established by the court is difficult, if not impossible, to prove. Despite the confusion in this decision, it would not be surprising to see courts in other states create liability for those who text a person whom they know is driving a motor vehicle.