The Ghost in the Driver’s Seat: Discussing Snapchat’s Liability with Distracted Drivers

Snap chat filters Snapchat is by far the coolest social media app to be released in a long time. I was hesitant to use it at first, but I’m now hooked. Snapchat has a large appeal because photos will be deleted after a set period of time. However, the secret ingredient with Snapchat may very well be their Geofilters. Simply, a Geofilter is a location-based filter that allows a user to put a specific image over their photo. For instance, if you are in Manhattan on the Upper Westside, you can snap a photo with the app, and overlay the Upper West Side Snapchat filter. Then you share it with your friends to show that you were on the Upper West Side. Our firm even uses these Geofilters for marketing events too. They’re fun, and a lot of people are starting to catch on. I am addicted to the Geofilters. Anytime I arrive in a new city, the first thing I do is check Snapchat for Geofilters. My willingness to volunteer for work-related travel has increased tenfold because of Snapchat. There is a problem with this, though. If I am merely driving through a city, I really can’t snap a photo while behind the wheel. I try not to, but the desire is real. Not everyone is as disciplined as I am, though.

One wouldn’t really say that Snapchat encourages this type of behavior. But, there is one filter that Sncapchat has that displays your speed while you take a photo. This feature is especially cool if you’re on a plane and you take a photo while taking off, or if you’re riding in the passenger seat of a car. However, many people use this filter while driving, and it’s caused several accidents. Snapchat won’t remove the filter.

Last September, Christal McGee, a 19-year-old from Georgia, decided to use the Snapchat speed filter while driving her parent’s Mercedes-Benz at over 100 mph. She then collided with another vehicle. Wentworth Maynard was driving the car McGee hit. As a result of the accident, he now has permeant brain damage. Maynard and his wife are suing McGee and they are suing Snapchat too.

It’s obvious that McGee was speeding, and the accident was likely a result of her negligence. She was traveling at over 100 mph in a 55 mph zone. This was confirmed by a passenger in her car. Regardless if it’s because of Snapchat, or because she was just being negligent, it’s safe to say that McGee was at fault. Granted, lawsuits are pending right now, and we don’t have access to police reports, but it’s very clear she was breaking the law.

So, you might be wondering how Snapchat may also be at fault in this case too. Well, Maynard’s attorney is citing product liability as a result of the accident. They are stating that Snapchat has an unsafe product, and the fact that they released it without any warnings or restrictions. There are no safeguards. In fact, if you get in your car right now start driving down the road, and open the app, there is nothing that says you shouldn’t use it while driving. You may try to argue that everyone knows you shouldn’t use it while driving because it’s common sense. But, you can’t really argue that point. There’s a reason why your GPS has a warning when your car starts there is a reason why coffee is labeled as hot, and there is a reason why plastic bags state that they aren’t toys. It’s now several months after the accident occurred and Snapchat has not added a warning to the speed filter. When this case gained traction, Snapchat did release a filter for one day that encouraged users to refrain from Snapping while driving.

It’s important to note that McGee’s attorney is arguing that her phone logs suggest that she was not using the filter at the time of the accident. If this is true, one could still argue that her use of the filter is what caused her to speed in the first place. It is heavily documented that she used Snapchat before and after the accident. She even Snapped a picture while the ambulance was transporting her to the hospital. The caption read: “lucky to be alive.”

It will be interesting to see how this case evolves. Regardless if Snapchat is found liable, this product will likely continue to grow. Snapchat is a fun app. However, if the speed filter is causing accidents, they need to take responsibility for what has happened.

If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law may be able to help. Be sure to call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather be contacted by one of our specialists, fill out this form now.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law