The popular social media app Snapchat is being sued for its role in a car crash that left a man with a traumatic brain injury.
Last September 18-year-old Christal McGee was driving her father's Mercedes on the way home from work when she opened Snapchat and accessed one of the app's filters that allows the user to record their current speed. The app awards a “trophy” to high-speed users, so McGee increased her speed to use the app.
In a statement to the police, McGee claimed she just wanted to reach 100mph and take a Snapchat. The ride ended with McGee hitting another driver, Wentworth Maynard, at 107mph. McGee and passengers in her car sustained only minor injuries, but Maynard suffered severe traumatic brain injuries and now suffers from chronic pain.
McGee documented the crash by Snapchatting a picture of herself in an emergency gurney with blood on her face captioned “lucky to be alive.”
Maynard, an Uber driver who was just starting his shift at the time of the crash, is suing McGee and Snapchat to recover damages from both for medical bills and other health care he will need for the rest of his life.
Maynard is including Snapchat in the lawsuit because of the “clear evidence” that links the miles per hour filter on the app to the seriousness of the accident. Maynard's attorneys argue that the trophy award system encourages users to document dangerous speeds.
This is not the first accident that has resulted from the app. In January of 2015, a Brazilian girl crashed and overturned her car while Snapchatting pictures of her speedometer at 180kph or 110mph. The girl was not using the filter that automatically posted her speed, but she posted a series of Snapchats documenting her high speed, the crash, and the aftermath of blood on her face.
Snapchat is also being investigated for its possible connection to a December crash in Philadelphia that resulted in a car crashing into a parked trailer carrying highly flammable herbicide. The car burst into flames and killed all three passengers. The last communication from the driver was a Snapchat that displayed the speedometer at 73 mph.
Maynard's attorneys aim to show that Snapchat was negligent in failing to remove the filter from the app when it has already been implicated in other deadly crashes.
The National Safety Council predicts that cell phone use is responsible for 1 in 4 car accidents. Currently, 14 states ban hand-held cell phone use, 46 states ban text messaging while driving, and 38 states ban all cell phone use for novice drivers.
Cellphone use after a crash can also be detrimental. McGee's parents and defense attorneys argue that the teen was not using Snapchat at the time of the crash and that her cell phone did not cause the accident. Instead, they say she was slightly over the speed limit and hit Maynard's car when he pulled onto the street while driving significantly under the speed limit. But the pictures McGee posted after the crash turned public opinion against her.
As cellphone use in cars grows in popularity, and the danger increases, more states will create harsher laws. Check your state's driving laws for specifics.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of the negligence of another, call our offices today. The Law Offices of Luvell L. Glanton understands the difficulties faced by clients who have suffered an injury. We have a track record of success in helping clients recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.