First, let me say at the outset I am truly saddened by the tragedy of the injuries that were sustained from a car accident from yet another senseless act of texting while driving.
We cannot stress enough the dangers and the tragic outcomes that occur when motorists take their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel to send a text to a colleague or loved one. There is really no message so important that a driver cannot pull off the road rather than reach over to grab their cellphone and then take the time to look down to type a text.
But I have to admit I was more than disheartened to hear that an attorney in the case was trying to go after the person who sent the text, putting the blame on her for sending it in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I think we send too many texts and perhaps there’s a point to be made with that, but to say the person sending the text should have known the recipient was driving and she shouldn’t have sent the text? Really! What about taking personally responsibility for our own actions? There comes a time and place when we all have to use technology responsibility.
In this situation I want to personally applaud the New Jersey Superior Court judge who ruled that a woman who sent the text message to her boyfriend while he was driving cannot be held liable for the motor vehicle accident he subsequently caused. For those of you who might not know about the case, the decision stemmed from a 2009 car accident in which Kyle Best, 19, was responding to a text message from his girlfriend, Shannon Colonna, 19, while he was driving his pickup truck that crossed the double-yellow line and side-swiped David and Linda Kubert who were riding together on a motorcycle. They were both severely injured leaving David and Linda amputees.
In a little tricky legal maneuver, Kuberts’ attorney, Stephen Weinstein, tried to lay the blame at Colonna’s doorstep for sending the text message to Best who was the driver and who actually caused the accident, but in the end she should be the one who antes up. Get this, Weinstein claimed that Colonna had been frequently texting with Best throughout the day and it was her responsibility to have known he was driving.
You’ve got to be kidding me. I am sorry, but I think we really have to rethink our legal system here in the U.S. We need to consider a system of you sue you lose, you pay. Even in this case she was not found to be liable, but I would guess she has a lot of legal bills. How does she recoup those expenses? It just doesn’t seem fair. This poor woman was not even present. Kudos to the judge for getting her out of this legal nightmare. Is this girl a magician? There is no way she could have known her boyfriend was in the car at that moment the text was sent. He could have been at his destination. He could have been at a gas station. It was his responsibility, and only his, to not to read the text while driving. Weinstein reportedly argued that the couple’s texting exchange was tantamount to a verbal conversation. So are we going to now sue every time there is a car accident and people are having a conversation in a car?
This case, along with the $21 million jury award to a woman who was struck by a Coca Cola truck driver who was distracted while talking on a cellphone, make it clear that when we use technology it comes down to personal responsibility. These most recent incidents raise the question of how to balance safe driving and the use of mobile devices.
But let’s be clear. It’s not the fault of the cellphone makers or the carriers. It comes down to each and every one of us to be responsible to how and when we use our devices. And I also believe part of the onus should be placed on the shoulders of the legal community to be held accountable as well. It certainly is not fair for lawyers, as in the case of the Kuberts, to file a lawsuit against Colonna that is so farfetched, in my opinion, that people have to defend themselves and can’t recoup their legal costs when they win. In the end, it seems the only ones that win are the lawyers.
In this case, the Kuberts are permanently disabled and their lawyer put Colonna through such an ordeal that no one should ever have to experience for sending a text when the receiver should have been more personally responsible for his actions. If there is one good thing that will come from this case is that one can only hope more people, including teens, will think before sending or receiving a text to loved ones traveling this Memorial Day weekend.