Texting with a Driver Could Get You into Trouble – and injure someone

By now everyone knows it is illegal to read or write a text while driving a car in Washington. RCW 46.61.668. These “no texting while driving” laws focus on the driver’s conduct. 
 
And for good reason. As discussed in last month’s newsletter, texting while driving is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored. If you are involved in a car crash while texting, you are responsible for any injuries. Several cases have recently held that sending a text to someone you know is driving a car could make you liable for injuries the texting driver caused. 
 
These cases involved claims by people injured or killed by a driver who was texting while operating a car. Utilizing a concept similar to “aiding and abetting”, these court opinions have expanded the scope of liability to the person texting with the driver. Think of it as judicial recognition of the idea that “it takes two to tango”. In order to impose this liability however, the court pointed out that the non-driving texter “must know or have reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted”. 
 
The lesson learned: don’t text while you’re driving and, if you are texting with someone who is behind the wheel, hang up immediately.