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Georgia Court Dismisses Suit Against Snapchat

Should app and mobile game creators be held accountable for car accidents linked to their use?

In September of 2015, 19-year-old Christal McGee seriously injured another Georgia driver, Wentworth Maynard, while using Snapchat.  The young driver was using the “speed filter” on Snapchat, which tracks how fast users are moving.  Drivers earn points by submitting images documenting their speed.  While attempting to reach a high speed on the app, McGee smashed into Maynard’s vehicle traveling about 100 miles per hour.  Maynard suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent five weeks in an intensive care unit.  Following this Georgia car accident, Maynard filed suit against Snapchat claiming the app creator was responsible for the crash.  Recently, however, the judge presiding over the case dismissed the action, finding Snapchat immune under a 1996 law.

Liability of App and Game Creators

Our phones have become far more than just a way to communicate.  With the plethora of cell phone apps and games now available, mobile electronic devices offer constant entertainment.  While most cell phone apps and games are harmless, others have placed human lives at risk.  In recent years, some cell phone apps have caused serious and even fatal car accidents.

Snapchat’s “speed filter” came under scrutiny shortly after its release.  The app seemed to promote speeding, but Snapchat did warn users not to “snap and drive.”  Similarly, mobile game Pokemon Go placed numerous drivers at risk as they attempted to catch elusive Pokemon while behind the wheel.  Several lawsuits were filed against the creators of Pokemon Go, many of which are still winding their way through the legal system.

The Georgia ruling in favor of Snapchat is precedent setting and could deter further litigation by car accident victims against cell phone manufacturers and app creators.  However, the verdict has been disputed by some for its reliance on a 21-year-old law originally passed to regulate pornographic material on the internet.  As more car accident cases involving apps and mobile games reach the courtroom, it is possible that the legal sentiment concerning these cases will shift, with increased accountability placed on app creators who could reasonably anticipate car accidents linked to the use of their products.

Posted in: Automobile Wrecks