Measure shielding texters who message drivers offered in N.J.

A New Jersey lawmaker is introducing legislation that would shield the sender of a text message from being sued if the person who receives it is driving and gets in an accident.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said a recent appellate court ruling that basically requires someone who sends a text to know what a recipient is doing when they get it is absurd.

“The fact that you now have to stop and think if you’re texting your husband to get milk whether you’re going to be sued or not I think is just silly,” she said Thursday. “Responsibility belongs in the front seat of that vehicle with the driver.”

Last month, the appellate court decided an individual who sends a text message can share liability in civil cases if the recipient of the message was driving and causes an accident.

The ruling involved a couple who were severely injured when their motorcycle was hit by a teenager who was texting and driving in Morris County in 2009.

The motorist had sued his girlfriend who sent him messages. The judges upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit.

While the appeals court said someone who texts a motorist is not liable for the driver’s negligent actions, it also said the texter has a duty to refrain if the person knows the recipient is driving and likely to read the message.

That’s an overreach that sets an impractical standard, said Casagrande, R-Monmouth.

She’s hoping to get bipartisan support for her bill to protect text senders from civil liability.

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