A pending court case in New Jersey may determine whether there are legal consequences for texting someone when they’re behind the wheel.
In 2009, Kyle Best hit a couple on their motorcycle while responding to a text sent by Shannon Colonna. The couple both lost their left legs and have not only brought a suit against Best, but have also included Colonna in the complaint for her role in the injury.
Texting while driving is already illegal in 38 states. Now, this precedent-setting case could determine if the person on the other side of the text message is just as responsible as the distracted driver.
The couple’s lawyer, Stephen Weinstein, told ABC News that while Colonna may have not been physically present, she was still electronically present.
However, Colonna’s lawyer argues that she had no control over when Best decided to read the text message and did not even know he was driving.
According to a deposition, Best said that at the time of the crash he glanced down at his cell to see who texted him, but a time sequence of the exchanged texts read in court show he was the last to text before the crash, meaning there was no intervening text from Colonna between Best’s last text to her and his 911 call.
Colonna’s attorney argues that, unlike a passenger who encourages a young driver to speed or ignore traffic signals, Colonna had no control over Best’s actions since she wasn’t in the car.