New Jersey Car Accident Lawyer Marc C. Saperstein Warns Teens, Parents about Texting Dangers In Light of Court Decision

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Saperstein, a founding member of the New Jersey personal injury law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., has been featured on WPIX TV and CNN, reacting to an Appeals Court’s ruling that could lead to liability for those who knowingly text drivers who are involved in crashes.

Attorney comments on NJ appeals court decision on texting accident case.

Marc C. Saperstein

Don’t send text messages. Don’t read text messages. You don’t want to cause a serious accident and risk harming others, getting yourself in trouble and getting the friends who are texting you into trouble as well.

Several news outlets have sought insights from veteran New Jersey personal injury attorney Marc C. Saperstein after a New Jersey Appeals Court ruled this week that those who knowingly text drivers could face potential liability if the driver ends up causing a car crash.

The N.J. Appeals Court issued its ruling in Kubert v. Best, et al. (No. A-1128-12T4) on August 27.

The case involved a then 18-year-old man and his 17-year-old friend who were texting each other shortly before the man was involved in a serious head-on collision with a couple on a motorcycle, according to the published opinion.

The Appeals Court held that people owe a legal duty to those on the public roads to avoid sending text messages to someone they know is driving. However, according to the opinion, the court ultimately found that the couple in this case had not provided enough evidence to hold the friend liable.

In particular, the Appeals Court stated in the opinion that it did not have sufficient evidence to hold the sender of the text liable because the plaintiffs did not have the content of the message. The content of the message must prove whether a person will respond because of a special relationship, i.e. parent/child or employer/employee, according to the Appeals Court. Although the Appeals Court dismissed the case against the sender, a sender can potentially be held liable based upon the above criteria, the Appeals Court held in the opinion.

Saperstein, a founding member of the New Jersey personal injury law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., and a former President of the New Jersey Association for Justice, was interviewed by WPIX TV on August 28 for a story about the case. A day later,CNN picked up the story nationally.

The attorney, who did not represent a party in the Kubert case, said he hopes that all of the media attention the case has generated ultimately raises awareness among teen drivers – and their parents – about the dangers of texting while driving.

“It’s well established that anyone who causes a crash when they’re texting while driving can be held liable, but this decision opens the door for others to be sued as well,” Saperstein said.

“According to the court, if the sender of a text knows or has a special reason to know that the person they are texting will look at the text while driving, and that distraction in turn causes a crash, then the sender of the text can be liable as well in New Jersey,” he said. “One could potentially have a special reason to know, for instance, if it’s a parent-child relationship or an employer-employee relationship.”

“But the real takeaway of this case, in my view, is this: If you’re driving, put your phone away,” Saperstein added. “Don’t send text messages. Don’t read text messages. You don’t want to cause a serious accident and risk harming others, getting yourself in trouble and getting the friends who are texting you into trouble as well.”

He pointed to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, issued in February 2013, finding a 19 percent spike nationally in 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths in the first half of 2012.

“Other studies show that a high percentage of teen drivers continue to talk on cell phones and text and drive. You can see the correlation between distracted driving and the increased number in serious, fatal crashes,” Saperstein said.

“With all of the attention this case is receiving, I think it’s a good time for parents to warn their teens about sending and receiving text messages when they’re behind the wheel – and parents should set a good example by putting their phones down as well,” he said.

About Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.

The law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., provides compassionate and skilled legal help to those injured by the negligence of others. Since 1981, the firm has secured more than $500 million in verdicts and settlements for personal injury and accident clients throughout New Jersey and New York. The firm’s main office is located at 375 Cedar Lane, Teaneck, NJ 07666 (local phone (201) 907-5000). For more information about Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., call (800) LAW-2000 or visit their website, dsslaw.com.

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