In one of the first cases of its kind under a law enacted in 2010, a Massachusetts teenager has been faced with texting and driving charges after an automobile accident in February 2011 that killed another driver and seriously injured a passenger in another vehicle. The automobile accident occurred when the 17-year-old driver crossed the center line and collided head-on with the victim's oncoming vehicle. The teenager's cell phone revealed that he had sent text messages about a minute before the accident is said to have occurred.
The teenage driver testified that he had not been sending any text messages in the moments leading up to the accident. Instead, he claimed he had placed the phone on the passenger seat and was distracted thinking about homework. He claims that he had swerved to avoid another vehicle which caused him to cross the center line and collide with the victims' automobile.
The driver and passenger of the vehicle that was hit were hospitalized after the automobile accident. Some 18 days later, the driver passed away from injuries related to the accident. The passenger endured a lengthy hospital stay, though the precise nature and extent of her serious injuries were not detailed.
It was not indicated whether a wrongful death or personal injury claim has been pursued against the teenage driver in this automobile accident. The fact that a conviction has now been obtained for motor vehicle homicide as well as negligent operation while texting will likely be of importance in any related civil claims based on the same collision. In addition to the criminal penalties assessed against him, the Massachusetts civil courts may also hear claims seeking monetary damages suffered by the injured victim and the family of the deceased driver.
Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, "Mass. teen guilty in texting-while-driving crash," June 7, 2012