Smartphone App “Snapchat” Sued Over Car Accident

May. 9th, 2016   /   ,

Smartphone App “Snapchat” Sued Over Car Accident

In the modern world of social media, people like to capture, and share, almost every moment. Today, tens of millions of people regularly update their Facebook status to inform friends they’ve landed at some destination, upload a picture of their food to Instagram and share Snapchat stories portraying their weekend adventures. To put it simply: social media platforms have become engrained in our everyday lives.

As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, that enmeshment can sometimes lead to danger. While all social media can be risky in terms of reputation or legal liabilities, the way at least one user allegedly decided to use Snapchat has resulted in physical injuries – and now a lawsuit.

According to a New York Times article about a fascinating new case highlighting the dangers of mixing social media and driving, a Georgia man has filed a lawsuit against 1) a teenager he accuses of carelessly using the Snapchat app while driving over 100 miles per hour and consequently ramming into his vehicle and 2) against Snapchat itself. The Georgia man, who is attempting to recover the costs related to the accident and the resultant injuries, suffered a “severe traumatic brain injury,” the article quotes his lawyer as saying. Further, the article points out that the injuries were so bad that police were unable to interview him on the night of the accident.

This story blew up after the teenager uploaded a picture of herself covered in blood and on a gurney to Snapchat with the comment line reading, “Lucky to be alive.” When attorneys for the man found out about the picture, they distributed it, causing law enforcement to start investigating the crash. An accident reconstruction completed by police demonstrated that when the cars collided, the teenager was driving at 107 miles per hour.

The claim against the teenager revolves around her negligent driving and use of the app while driving; the suit claims that the teenager, while driving, began using a Snapchat “lens” (a component of the application) which clocks the speed of one’s vehicle. The teenager, the suit further alleges, attempted to reach faster and faster speeds in order to have the speeds reflect on the Snapchat application. Such an allegation, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know, seems to provide an explanation for why one, while using Snapchat, would be travelling at the unreasonably dangerous speed of 107 miles per hour. The teenager’s family has deflected criticism and maintains that the cause of the accident was the man drifting into the lane of the teenager.

Snapchat is accused in the lawsuit of incentivizing high-speed driving by allowing users to win a “trophy,” an application badge bestowed upon users upon completion of certain tasks. Snapchat has rejected that claim, claiming it has never offered trophies in exchange for driving at high speeds. A spokesman for Snapchat pointed out that the app has a warning screen within the speed filter which reads, “Do NOT Snap and Drive” and said the company does not encourage the user community to use the speed filter while driving. But as our personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, this begs the question: what is the speed filter encouraging?

This case highlights the dangers of distracted driving, which can leave a driver just as ill-equipped to respond to split-second changes on the road as being intoxicated. Thus, it is no wonder the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has come out forcefully against distracted driving, saying, “it’s dangerous, devastating, crippling, and it’s a killer and still socially acceptable.”

If you or anyone you know has been injured in a car accident, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green for a free consultation. You may reach us by phone at 561-266-9191 or by email at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. We look forward to assisting you.

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