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The Liability of Snapchat for Accidents Related to Distracted Driving

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.

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