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Let the Electronic Passenger Off at the Next Stop!

Motor Vehicle Litigation / July 2, 2020

Although the driver of an automobile who is distracted by reading or sending digital messages on a cell phone and, as a result, causes an accident is clearly negligent, the Michigan Court of Appeals has held, in an unpublished opinion, that the sender of the text message is not liable for the driver’s negligence. Although the Plaintiff here argued that the sender of the text message knew that the intended recipient was driving at the time the text message was sent and thereby had the status of an “electronic passenger,” the Court of Appeals held that the driver owed the legal duty to the injured party, not the sender of the text message. The driver could have elected to read the text message at any time other than when she was operating the automobile.

Unpublished opinions are not binding but may be considered by the Court for their instructive or persuasive value.

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