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Don’t Text Someone While They are Driving – You could be liable

By 27 September 2013News & Articles

Don’t send a text to someone whilst they are driving, you could be held responsible if they have an accident.

We’ve written about this in an earlier article, mobile phone texting and social media increase the risk of a car accident and the impact it has on drivers of any age who use a mobile phone whilst driving. Now a recent US court decision has found that if you send someone a text and know they are driving a car or any type of vehicle, and also know they are likely to read or respond while behind the wheel, you could be held liable for any accident they have.

Recently in the US, car accident victims, David and Linda Kubert, who both lost a limb in a car crash, have changed both the civil and criminal landscape in their native US state of New Jersey.
There are now tougher criminal penalties for texting drivers in the US and it is now possible to sue the person who sends a text to a driver.

Could and should this happen in Australia?

Alan Davidson is a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland Law School. He says Kubert v Colonna is an important ruling, with the potential to radically alter legal liability in the digital age.

‘Everyone will agree that the driver is primarily responsible. Everyone will agree that the driver has a duty not to be distracted and pay attention.’

‘But there is a parallel liability by a person who knows or ought to know that a person will be distracted, not to text that person.’

Davidson says each year 3,000 Americans die due to mobile phone use by drivers and texting has replaced drink driving as the leading cause of injury and death among American teenagers.

Make sure that you do not text or use your mobile phone whilst driving or that you send a text message to someone that you know is driving, as you could well be held responsible for any accident.

The legislation – How it affects you

It is illegal in all Australian states and territories to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This includes talking, texting, playing games, taking photos or video and using other phone functions.

Using a hand-held mobile phone is also illegal when your vehicle is stationary but not parked (when stopped at a traffic light).

It is illegal to use a hands-free phone while driving if it causes you to lose proper control of your vehicle.

Learner and P1 drivers are not permitted to use a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving.

The most common types of crashes associated with mobile phone usage are “run off the road” and “rear end” crashes.

If you or any member of your family or friends is involved in a car accident it is important to be fully aware of your rights and what compensation for personal injury you may be able to claim.

At GC Law we are personal injury experts and can help you assess your potential claim, you can even use our Free Case Review process to start your compensation claim.

For more information on car accident claims call us to speak to one of our lawyers on 1 300 302 388 or start a live chat session and talk with a GC Law lawyer today.

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