Is the Person Texting a Driver Also Responsible for Distracted Driving Crashes?

Back in May 2013, a motorcyclist in Hickory Township was slowing down for a turn when his bike was hit by an SUV. The 47-year-old was texting at the time of the crash, and the rider did not survive the incident. The bereaved family of the motorcyclist sought justice for their loved one by taking the SUV driver to court, however, she was not the only defendant in this lawsuit.


Authorities charged the 47-year-old with careless driving, involuntary manslaughter and texting while driving. She pleaded guilty to those charges and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 60 days of incarceration with work release, probation and house arrest. However, criminal cases rarely help compensate the families of victims after the loss of their loved one. That’s why the family of the motorcyclist filed a civil lawsuit against not only the distracted driver, but the person who was texting her at the time.

On Friday, February 2, a Pennsylvania court dismissed the lawsuit against the man who was texting the distracted driver in this case. The court said that the given testimony failed to prove that the texter knew or should have had knowledge that his intended recipient was driving when he sent her the message that may have caused this tragedy. This at first seems like a win for the texter, but it also makes a serious implication.

If the texter in this case had known or should have known that the recipient of their text was driving at the time of the crash, the court may have ruled differently. So far, there have not been any cases to test this legal theory, but with the continued rise in distracted driving civil lawsuits, one such case could be right around the corner. The auto accident attorneys at Selingo Guagliardo will continue to monitor developments in lawsuits like this, so you can stay informed.