Texting while driving — negligence lawsuits and asset protection

By Roccy Defrancesco

The Wealth Preservation Institute


I wonder how many readers saw on the news recently the New Jersey court of appeal's ruling concerning texting and driving. My guess is not many; so I thought I’d make readers aware of it and dovetail that into a discussion about asset protection.

Texting while driving is worse than drunk driving

A study done by Car and Driver Magazine found that driver reaction time was much slower when the driver was texting than when he or she was under the influence of alcohol. While you may know some clients who drink and drive, my guess is that every one of your clients texts while driving. If that’s the case, every one of your clients puts their entire wealth at risk every time they text and drive.

The amount of negligence lawsuits we’ll see in this country from injuries that come from texting while driving are going to be off the charts, and now a New Jersey court has ruled that the person sending the text to someone they know is driving could also be sued if the receiver of the text injures someone. If this doesn’t scare you, it should (and those of you who have teenage children should be doubly scared).

The NJ case

The case involved a New Jersey couple who were riding a motorcycle in Morris County in 2009, when they were sideswiped by a Chevy pickup that had veered over the double-yellow line. The truck was driven by an 18-year-old who was texting, according to court papers.

The husband and wife, who each lost their left legs, settled their claims with the teen, but appealed a trial court’s dismissal of their claims against his 17-year-old friend who had been texting with him right before the collision. In this case, the appeals court didn’t find the friend liable because there wasn’t enough proof that she knew her friend would look at her messages while driving and become distracted. If there had been proof, the court would have allowed a claim against the non-driving friend who was texting the driver who caused the accident.

I think proper estate or financial planning is impossible if asset protection is not at its foundation. You could help your clients grow their wealth to astronomical heights, but with one negligence lawsuit, that can be wiped out in a heartbeat. No matter how you learn more about asset protection, I strongly recommend you learn about it soon. Doing so will help you give better advice to clients and grow your client base in the affluent markets.