For most people, the increase of technology has made our lives better rather
than worse. It provides a manner in which individuals may have greater
contact with the outside world, and remain connected to those who may
be far away. Technology also can have a dark side, especially as the relative
ease of our technologically-enhanced devices becomes more and more addictive
to the average user. Our smart phones, for example, have provided an outlet
by which to communicate, navigate, and play games among other possible
uses. Sometimes, the addiction that we have to our phones goes beyond
just the mere need to see who texted us, but may endanger our lives, especially
as we are using our phones when we should not - namely crossing a major
intersection or driving a car. If we get injured while we are enjoying
our devices, are we at fault? Is it the device’s fault? Is it the
app maker’s fault?
Is it Fair to Charge Liability to the App Designers?
Recently the conversation of liability has begun to steer more and more
in favor of applying responsibility to the application designers. If use
of a feature of an app requires us to involve ourselves in inherently
dangerous activities, should the app designers be held responsible? In
the case of
Snapchat, many say “Yes!”
Snapchat has been under major scrutiny in the last few months due to a
feature of the app that allows people to take “selfies” with
the speed in which they are moving as part of an image’s caption.
For example, if one is running, he or she can snap a photo or a video
to send to their friends with a caption that includes the speed that they
are travelling. However, many people are using this feature to break the
law, speed in their cars, and include the caption with how fast their
cars are driving to provoke a response from friends.
Pending Lawsuit in Georgia: Should Snapchat Be Liable?
In Georgia, a man, injured by a Snapchat-using teenager who plowed into
the man’s car and sustaining serious injuries, is not only suing
the teenager but also suing Snapchat for negligence. The teenager, at
the time of the accident, was driving over 100 miles per hour and using
the app to send photos/videos to friends about how fast she was actually
driving. The teen was using the Snapchat to see how much faster she could
push her car to move. At the time of her Snap, the Snapchat filter had
estimated that she was going 113 mph, but at the time of the accident,
she was going 107 mph. The speed limit in the area was 55.
Future Implications for Assessing Liability Against App Companies
The Georgia man, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, filed suit
against her and Snapchat stating that Snapchat incentivizes users to engage
in reckless behavior and other forms of distracted driving to receive a
“trophy” after completing a Snapchat challenge. Snapchat has stated that it does
not provide trophies to users with the fastest driving speed, and includes
a warning message, informing users to not Snap and drive. However, the
pending lawsuit alleges that Snapchat has been made aware of previous
accidents associated with the use of the speed filter, and the company
chose to not remove the feature from the app. If this lawsuit proceeds
and wins, this could lead to
more lawsuits implicating smart phone applications that incentivize distracted driving.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
Distracted driving, regardless of the smartphone feature in use, can cause
serious injury and harm. If you or a loved one was seriously injured due
to a distracted driver, please call the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.