Our Car Accident Lawyers Analyze Distracted Driving Accident Claim Filed against Snapchat
The distracted driving crisis has reached epidemic proportions because of the prevalent use of mobile phones by drivers, especially newly licensed motorists. The focus of law enforcement efforts and legislation aimed at curbing cell phone use by drivers has tended to focus on talking and texting on a mobile phone. While these activities might be the most common forms of distractions involving mobile phones, the popularity of social media websites offers a new type of distraction for teen drivers. A lawsuit filed by a person who suffered serious injury when struck by a motorist using Snapchat raises an interesting question about the potential liability of social media website companies for accidents caused by distracted drivers using their “apps.”
In the Snapchat lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that an 18-year-old teen driver caused a crash because she was using Snapchat at the time of the collision. The crash victim claims that the other motorist was driving at a reckless speed while using an application called “lens.” Lens works like a radar gun by ascertaining the speed of a vehicle, which is included in the depiction of the driver. The lawsuit alleges that the Snapchat application encouraged the novice driver to accelerate to approximately 107 miles per hour at the time of the collision based on analysis by an accident reconstruction expert.
As might be expected, the car crash injury lawsuit names the teen driver as a defendant, but the lawsuit also targets Snapchat, which is a multibillion-dollar technology company. According to documents filed in the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that the company’s application urged the teen driver to continue accelerating to a dangerous speed. While motorists ultimately are not compelled to violate the speed limit and drive at a reckless speed, the application provides motivation to engage in this form of unsafe driving by offering awards for drivers who accomplish specific tasks.
In opposing the lawsuit, Snapchat has emphasized that no award has ever been offered for violating the speed limit. The company also counters that the application specifically warns users about the dangers of distracted driving. Snapchat contends that the warning screen depicts the following message: “Do NOT Snap and Drive.”
While it is too early to determine the outcome of this lawsuit, evidence revealed during the litigation indicates that the 18-year-old driver posted a Snapchat almost immediately before the accident which left the victim with serious brain damage. The potential liability of Snapchat is significant given the severity of injuries suffered by the victim, which required a five week period of hospitalization. Severe brain injuries can result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in medical expenses, supportive care, lost earnings, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other forms of damages.
Cell phone use while driving continues to constitute a leading cause of devastating motor vehicle accidents that cause permanent injury and wrongful death. While text messaging and talking on a cell phone have received the majority of attention from lawmakers and traffic safety experts, social media websites, games like Pokemon Go, and multi-media programming on mobile phones also tempt motorists from focusing on the road ahead. Cell phones that are turned off or located out of reach in a glove compartment or the backseat offer a safer way to travel and avoid potentially life-threatening distractions.