Everyone knows in Pennsylvania it is illegal to text and drive.
If you cause an accident while texting you might very well open yourself up to a claim of punitive damages against you.
That is in addition to the usual injuries you are on the hook for. Like pain and suffering and lost wages etc.
But what if you know that someone’s driving and you text them?
Can you be held responsible if the person you are texting hits another car and injures someone?
Well Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, slip and fall, car accident and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully came across a case article that may answer your question.
A Judge in Lawrence County which is about an hour away from Pittsburgh allowed such a case to proceed against the person who was texting the distracted driver.
This is potentially a big big decision. Check out this article from the Legal Intelligencer.
“As drivers encounter an increasing number of distractions behind the wheel, Pennsylvania law is adjusting to consider how civil damages should be meted out in motor vehicle accidents. If a recent opinion from a Lawrence County judge is any indication, anyone sending a text message might now be found liable for accidents on Pennsylvania’s roads if they knowingly divert a driver’s attention.
In Gallatin v. Gargiulo, Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas Judge John W. Hodge, in an apparent issue of first impression, allowed negligence and wrongful-death claims to proceed against two men who were texting a female driver who was involved in a fatal accident. The opinion follows a 2013 ruling from a New Jersey appeals court that established for the first time in the country a cause of action against those who knowingly distract drivers by sending text messages.
Attorneys said the Lawrence County ruling, despite being narrowly tailored and coming only at the preliminary objections stage, will allow accident victims an additional avenue to pursue recovery.
An individual must know or have reason to know at the time of the accident that the person they are texting is driving and will view the text, establishing a high standard that will be difficult to prove.
The complaint alleged Laura E. Gargiulo was traveling behind Daniel E. Gallatin while texting on her phone in violation of Section 3316 of the Vehicle Code. Distracted and inattentive, she struck the rear of Gallatin’s motorcycle, pinning him and dragging him under her vehicle for approximately 100 feet, the order said. Gallatin died from his injuries.”
Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, slip and fall, car accident and criminal attorney Bernie Tully thinks you can understand why this is big.
Because if this decision holds up on appeal, it means a person who was not in their car can be legally responsible for injuries caused by the person driving and responding to your text messages.
This sure is a decision you should think about if you are texting someone on the roadway.
It just is not worth it.
Thanks for reading.
Bernie the Attorney.