As the distracted driving epidemic becomes worse across the country, it raises new questions about who should be held liable for injuries caused in a car accident. Are the drivers solely to blame for negligently using technology that distracts them from safely operating a vehicle, or should the device manufacturers be held responsible as well for their failure to prevent their apps and devices from being used in a moving vehicle? A recent lawsuit may provide some clarity on this debate.
A few weeks ago, a Texas family filed a lawsuit against Apple to recover damages after their 5-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident caused by a driver using Apple's FaceTime video chat app. The child's father was driving on the highway and had slowed to a halt due to police activity. A man operating an SUV behind them never saw traffic stop because he was using FaceTime on his iPhone 6, and he rear-ended the vehicle in front of him at full highway speed.
The father, mother, and older child all sustained serious injuries in the crash. The 5-year-old child, who had to be extracted from the vehicle by rescue workers, didn't survive the accident. FaceTime was still running when police arrived at the negligent driver's vehicle.
The lawsuit filed by the surviving family members alleges that Apple's iPhones have the ability to detect whether the user of the phone is moving and the speed being traveled due to accelerometers and GPS systems built into the device. The family is claiming Apple acted negligently by failing to configure their iPhones to disable a driver's ability to use FaceTime while driving at highway speeds.
Apple and other device manufacturers have argued in the past that they are unable to disable the use of these apps without creating a situation where people will encounter this shutdown while riding as a passenger or using public transportation. Instead, they argue that the driver must be responsible for not using these apps while behind the wheel.
It will be interesting to see how a jury approaches this case. The outcome may potentially have a significant impact on whether device and app manufacturers will face similar lawsuits down the road.
While drivers have a duty to act responsibly and refrain from using cell phones while operating a vehicle, this moral obligation clearly isn't enough of a deterrent to prevent distracted driving from becoming one of the leading causes of car accidents across the country. The device and app manufacturers could significantly improve safety by enabling features which prevent drivers from using these apps and devices behind the wheel.
If you've been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your damages. The attorneys at Wilson Law, P.A. have been fighting for the rights of accident victims in the Raleigh, North Carolina area since 2000, and we are committed to helping you hold negligent drivers accountable for your injuries.
Please contact Wilson Law, P.A. using the form on this page or call (919) 800-0919 today to schedule your free car accident consultation. We serve clients in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and throughout North Carolina.