Sender of the Text Message Not Liable for Car Crash, Judge Says

This is an update to my recent post: Could Cellphone Use Constitute Electronic Presence at Crime? New Jersey Morris County Superior Court Judge David Rand says, a woman who texted her boyfriend while he was driving can’t be held liable for a car crash he caused while responding to her, seriously injuring a couple on a motorcycle.

The woman in question, Shannon Colonna said, she did not know that Best was driving at the time he read and responded to her text message. Colonna’s lawyer asserted, she had no control over when Best would read and respond to the message.

Therefore, Rand dismissed the claim against Shannon Colonna and concurred and said,

It’s reasonable for text message senders to assume the recipients will behave responsibly, and he also noted drivers are bombarded with many forms of distraction.

However, it is not over yet!

The Kuberts’ (plaintiffs) stated they will appeal the decision.


  1. I wish to file suit aginst the Kuberts. I was reading about their stupid lawsuit while I was walking and I stubbed my foot on a coffee table. I may have broken my toe and clearly, under their theory, they are liable.

  2. Putting aside jurisdictional issues, you’d have to establish, first, that they were responsible (whatever “responsible” means in this context) for the dissemination of the news of their lawsuit.

    Many US state courts, and the Federal Court, require lawyers to sign a declaration of some sort that the lawyer(s) responsible for the contents of the claim or defence have reasonable grounds for believing that the claim or defence is a valid in law. (I’m paraphrasing but I think that’s the substance.) I think NJ is one of those jurisdictions. (I could check, but I won’t.)

    Many of these unusual – search for other pockets – claims in US motor vehicle accident injury litigation exist because the limits of any applicable vehicle liability policy are low, assuming there is liability insurance at all.

  3. David Cheifitz, I wonder what you call “low” in the context of liability insurance limits. I am a UK lawyer and we efectively have unlimited liability for road accidents.

  4. David Cheifetz

    As little as 5K per claimant and something more total per accident. Some US policies have what are called “split” limits.