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Fatal Plane Crash Allegedly Caused by Selfies

March 05, 2015

While cell phones can constitute serious distractions and contribute to potentially deadly crashes, a fatal plane crash raises the specter of a less obvious dangerous use of mobile phones by drivers. While you might not have considered the risk posed by "selfies" as a likely cause of an accident, a recent fatal plane crash demonstrates a reason that the growing obsession with selfies might be more than just an annoying habit. For those unfamiliar with the term, a "selfie" is a photo one takes of oneself which is often texted or uploaded to a social media site to be shared with others.

Because those engaged in this activity are focused on their phone display, there have been a growing number of selfie-related accidents. A recent plane crash near Denver that is believed to have been caused by the pilot and passenger using their phones to take pictures of themselves provides an example. The NTSB report cite recordings from a GoPro camera found near the crash scene. They show the pilot and his passenger using their mobile phones to take selfies prior to the crash. The investigation speculated that the flashes from the phones disoriented the pilot causing him to lose control of the plane. The Denver Post report indicated that a post-crash investigation did not reveal any mechanical issues. The investigators determined that the cause of the crash was likely "spatial disorientation and lost control of the airplane."

Although it might be tempting to presume this was a freak accident unlikely to occur again, many teen drivers take selfies while driving motor vehicles. Any form of distracted driving by inexperienced teen drivers is dangerous, but using a cell phone to take a selfie can be especially dangerous. In addition to the risk of temporary distortion of a driver's vision from the flash, the driver experiences a multi-level distraction involving the teen motorist's hands, eyes and attention. While many states impose limits on the use of cell phones while driving, these restrictions do not generally extend to using a phone to take self-portraits. Because the conduct is not prohibited specifically, teens mistakenly feel that they do not have to fear the risk of penalties for engaging in this unsafe practice.  However, if something tragic happens, there are other laws- both criminal and civil that can potentially result in massive penalties for grossly negligent conduct.

People are just starting to become aware of the potential risk of distracted behavior while taking selfies. Some examples of accidents that have caused serious injury and loss of life involving this use of mobile phones include:

• Taking a selfie with an aggressive bull
• Falling off a cliff when taking a selfie near the edge
• Self-inflicted gunshot while taking a selfie while posing with a loaded gun
• Brain injury incurred during a fall down stairs while attempting to take a selfie
• Fall from a bridge or being hit by a car while walking in parking lot or crossing a street

If you are injured in an Atlanta car crash caused by a distracted driver, you might have a right to financial compensation.

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Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.