A new driving danger has been associated with a phone app frequently used by many teenagers and children. The popular phone app Snapchat is being blamed for a catastrophic auto accident in which a man suffered permanent brain damage.
Driving and handling a smartphone, in any way, can be a dangerous combination. Now the creators of Snapchat are being accused of encouraging people to go to extreme lengths to snap pictures of themselves while driving.
Snapchat allows you to use filters to transform images, but it’s “speed filter” is what is sparking the lawsuit filed by Georgia resident Wentworth Maynard, whose SUV was struck from behind by a speeding car being driven by a teenager, Christal McGee, who was attempting to use Snapchat’s speed filter to take a picture of herself while driving more than 100 miles per hour.
Snapchat’s speed filter allows you take a picture of yourself showing just how fast you are moving at any given moment. Even though the app displays a disclaimer warning people not to use the speed filter while driving, Maynard’s attorneys claim that Snapchat played a significant role in the accident in which he was injured.
The attorneys allege that 18-year-old McGee was so distracted by the phone and by taking the photo that she never saw the man’s SUV pulling out in front of her. The teenager crashed into the SUV at approximately 107 miles per hour mangling both cars and injuring Maynard, who now suffers from permanent brain damage as a result of the accident.
In making their case against Snapchat, the attorneys claim that the accident would not have happened had it not been for McGee attempting to use the app’s speed filter. They also point to similar speed related accidents involving Snapchat, such a case in Brazil, where a woman was driving 100 miles per hour and using the speed filter before wrecking her car and suffering serious injuries.
Whether or not Snapchat, which is worth $16 billion, can be held partially liable for this accident is debatable and will have to be determined by a jury. However, it can be assumed that the McGee will be found to be primarily at fault.
The question then becomes does she have enough money to cover the damages? Since it is likely that McGee only has the minimum amount of liability coverage, Maynard’s attorneys have turned to Snapchat, who certainly has deep pockets, to cover the remaining damages.
The lawsuit does not claim that there is a flaw in the design of the app or that Snapchat failed to warn users of the possibility of getting into a car crash if they use the app while driving.
Therefore, Maynard’s attorneys will attempt to prove that Snapchat is partly liable because the creators knew that there was an inherent risk of people using the app to snap photos of themselves while driving at excessive speeds and did not do enough to prevent or discourage the app from being used in this manner.
In fact, other speeding accidents involving Snapchat’s speed filter have occurred prior to this one. However, Snapchat can argue that they have made clear to the public the danger of using the app while driving through disclaimers and a recent ‘Do NOT Snap and Drive’ campaign.
It is always possible that a company like Snapchat will settle the claim even if there is no clear legal liability. There is the expense of legal litigation and court costs to consider, as well as, the public attention brought on by the case, which might persuade the company to resolve the lawsuit as soon as possible. But for now, we will have to stay tuned to see if the case goes to court and if so, what precedent it sets for similar lawsuits involving smartphones, driving and auto accidents.
If you or your loved one have been injured in a car accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for the damages that have been sustained. Those interested in obtaining compensation can call (800) 838-6644 to speak to a Timothy J. Ryan & Associates lawyer about their case. Our attorneys have over 34 years experience and have helped to recover over $1 billion on behalf of injury victims.