Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law

States, courts, feds struggle to address issue of distracted driving, P.2

Previously, we began looking at some of the pressures that are bearing upon electronics and app manufacturers to address the problem of distracted driving. As we noted, this pressure is coming both from highway safety regulators and from the court system.

App developer Snapchat, for instance, was sued last year by a couple who were seriously injured by an 18-year-old driver who had been distracted by using the app’s speed filter feature in an attempt to log herself travelling at 100 miles per hour. They claimed that Snapchat should be held liable for failing to remove or restrict use of the speed filter feature given previous reports of distraction-induced accidents. 

The judge in the Snapchat case ultimately ruled that Snapchat was immune from liability under a federal law that protects Internet service providers and users from statements made by other content providers. The decision was a victory for Snapchat, but it remains to be seen whether other courts will take the same approach.

Yet another angle on the distracted driving issue is whether those who send text messages which contribute to distracted driving accidents should be held liable. Cases like this have been filed, or are in the process of being filed, in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The idea would be to base liability on the concept of aiding and abetting another in a violation of law.

Proponents compare it to holding a bartender liable for overserving a patron. In any such case, the key would be whether the sender of the text message knew or had reason to know that the receiver was driving at the time the text was sent. Here as well, it remains to be seen how the theory holds up in court, but it shows another avenue where the court system is dealing with the issue of liability for distracted driving.

Those who have been harmed by a distracted driver have the right to be fully compensated for their injuries and losses. Working with an experienced attorney helps ensure they are able to consider all the options available for seeking compensation, and that their interests are zealously advocated in the courts.

Sources:

CBS News, “A win for Snapchat in crash lawsuit tied to speed filter,” Jan. 23, 20Texting & CBS

Pittsburgh, “Texting & Driving: Can Sender Be Held Liable In Crash?,” Heather Abraham, Feb. 10, 2017. 

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