A texting and driving case tried in New Jersey resulted in conviction. It was one of the first, if not the first trial in NJ for vehicular homicide based on reckless use of a cell phone while driving. The driver, a New Jersey woman named Alexandra Mansonet, who was age 50, rear-ended the Toyota Corolla in front of her. As a result, the Toyota hit a pedestrian. The pedestrian flew up into the air, and came down with her head striking the pavement. The victim was hospitalized and died five days later as a result of a severe brain trauma.
According to app.com, the victim, Yuwen Wang, was a 39-year-old woman from Hazlet. She had taken a work break and was in a crosswalk when the Toyota crashed into her.
Alexandra Mansonet was driving a Mercedes, and there were no skid marks or evidence of braking before the car crashed into the Toyota. She claimed that she was not texting but had reached down to turn on the defogger (according to an NBC News report). Two letters had been typed into her phone: an M and E. Mansonet did not recall typing in the letters. Witnesses who testified surmised she had typed the letters in response to a text she had received one minute earlier. Her sister-in-law had texted asking about dinner plans saying, "Cuban, American, Mexican — pick one." The jury deliberated and arrived at the conclusion that the defendant had been texting and driving.
The accident occurred in September and jury convicted the defendant in November. She still awaits sentencing.
Based on a law passed in New Jersey in 2012, using a handheld phone while driving is a reckless act. The reckless act can form a basis for vehicular homicide. Despite the fact that other people in New Jersey have been charged under this law, this was the first case to go to trial. In other cases, the authorities dismissed the charges or the defendants pled guilty.
This case set a precedent to hold reckless driving based on cell phone use as a basis for vehicular homicide charges.
Will New York and other states establish similar case law? Time will tell.
From a personal injury standpoint, a criminal case would provide evidence of negligence that could be used in a civil case to seek damages.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or a loved one has died in a car accident, an experienced car accident lawyer can protect your rights. Sackstein Sackstein and Lee, LLP has decades of experience advocating for injury victims and their families.