Dismissal of Lawsuit That Indicated Snapchat Was Immune from Distracted Driving Injury Claim
Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers Discuss Recent Dismissal of Lawsuit That Indicated Snapchat Was Immune from Distracted Driving Injury Claim
Distracted driving continues to cause a significant number of motor vehicle accidents each year. Cell phones have become the most deadly cause of multi-tasking behind the wheel. At any moment in time, an estimated 660,000 people are using cell phones or manipulating portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle, according to the federal government distracted driving website. This high number of distracted drivers is concerning because motorists avert their eyes for an average of five seconds when texting. Vehicles traveling at a rate of 55 miles per hour can cover the length of a football field in this period of time. The number of ways a cell phone can interfere with a driver's attention is almost as limitless as the "apps" that can be purchased. In this blog article, we analyze the recent dismissal of a Georgia lawsuit involving a seriously injured crash victim who sued Snapchat, alleging that the company's website enticed the other driver to multi-task and speed.
The lawsuit alleged that the at-fault driver was traveling over a hundred mph on a highway south of Atlanta when her car slammed into the plaintiff's vehicle. The lawsuit, Maynard v. Snapchat, is being litigated in Spaulding County state court. Documents filed in the lawsuit allege that the Snapchat app motivated the speeding driver. The app includes a feature that was being used at the time of the crash that is referred to as a "speed filter." This feature enables the driver to photograph the speed at which a vehicle is traveling. The app permits a driver who is moving at a high rate of speed to "brag" to friends on the social media site about the high rate of speed.
The lawsuit contended that this feature of Snapchat provides an incentive for young, inexperienced drivers to travel at unsafe speeds to show off for followers on the Snapchat website. The judge dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the Communication Decency Act grants immunity from prosecution to the social media company for harm caused by negligent acts. The judge accepted Snapchat's position that the lawsuit was barred by the 1996 Communication Decency Act which provides that "[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
A spokesman for Snapchat reportedly told ABC News that a loss in the lawsuit would have spurred a glut of lawsuits against companies ranging from cell phone manufacturers to billboard advertisers. Our auto accident attorneys question the validity of this sweeping statement.
While all apps that can be used on a cell phone can be a distraction to drivers, the Snapchat speed filter is qualitatively different from music, game, or news apps. Other types of apps are not specifically designed to be used by motorists while operating their motor vehicle. Further, the speed filter presumably is not intended to publicize traveling the speeding limit or at low rates of speed, so the design of the app would appear to encourage motorists who are showing off to drive fast.
The plaintiff in this lawsuit is considering an appeal, and other courts might analyze the issue differently. This personal injury claim is just one of many lawsuits across the U.S. that are being pursued against companies that provide distracting technology, which causes serious motor vehicle crashes. If you or a loved one has received injuries after being involved in a distorted driving accident caused by negligence, contact Montlick & Associates to discuss your legal rights and options as well as what steps are necessary to protect your rights.
Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law: Put Our Over 33 Years of Experience to Work on Your Case!
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent driving of another person or company, contact the Georgia Injury and Accident Attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law. Our law firm is dedicated to assisting injured car accident victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. We bring over 33 years of experience to negligence cases, always striving to provide our clients dedicated representation. The sooner you act after your injury, the greater your chances are of obtaining a full recovery. As such, it is important that you seek the assistance of a licensed lawyer as soon as possible. Call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.