A judge in New Jersey is going to have to decide on a groundbreaking personal injury lawsuit where the person who sent a text message to the driver responsible for the accident is a co-defendant.
Back in 2009, Kyle Best, aged 19, was driving a pick-up truck when he got a text message from Shannon Colonna, also aged 19. Distracted by the text, Kyle Best veered into oncoming traffic and hit a motorcycle.
The motorcyclists were David and Linda Kubert. Both of them lost a leg as a result of the accident. David Kubert lost his left leg at the scene itself, while Linda's leg was amputated afterwards.
The initial lawsuit complaint only named Kyle Best as the defendant. But the complaint was later amended to include Shannon Colonna as a co-defendant. The Kuberts' lawyer claims she was "electronically present" and partially responsible for the accident.
The complaint against her makes the case that she knew Kyle Best's schedule since she had been communicating with him all day and would have been aware that he was driving when she sent the text message that was responsible for the driver distraction that resulted in the accident.
Shannon Colonna's lawyer says she bears no responsibility for the accident since she was not physically present in the vehicle. When she sent the text, it was under the assumption that it would be read when it was safe to do so.
This is the first case where a defendant is being accused of "electronically" causing a distracted driving crash while not being present in the vehicle.
Kyle Best pleaded guilty to three violations, including use of a mobile phone while driving, improper lane change and careless driving. He was fined $775 and ordered to do community service. The community service was to speak to students at 14 schools about the perils of texting while driving.
Kyle Best's driving license was not suspended by the court. The civil lawsuit filed by the Kuberts is separate from these earlier court proceedings and rulings.
Did you know?
A full 75 percent of all adults admit to talking on a cell phone while driving.
Among American adults, 27 percent admit to reading or sending text messages while driving.