Third Party Liability in Car Accidents & a Snapchat Lawsuit

Posted on Apr 30, 2016

snapchat distracted drivingDistractions while driving have only increased since the automobile was invented about a century ago. At first passengers, the radio, food and drink were common distractions, but as time and technology advanced drivers face other distractions. In the early days of mobile technology, car phones disrupted drivers with calls. Then initial models of flip phones and other cell phones offered texting. Once smartphones became mainstream - texting, video chats, media applications for music and news, maps and GPS directions, and other phone applications can take away from a driver's attention on the road. Texting while driving has been banned in North Carolina since December 1, 2009.

A tragic accident occurred in a neighboring state to North Carolina that involved a teenage driver Christal McGee and a man Maynard Wentworth. The man now suffers permanent brain damage. The teen was using Snapchat at the time of the accident. Snapchat is a smartphone application that allows photo and short video messaging. The app has a speed filter feature. The speed filter captures the user's speed at the time the photo or video is taken. In the moments leading up to the crash the app shows the teen driver was speeding in excess of 100 MPH. 

Wentworth is suing McGee for negligence, and he is also suing Snapchat. According to The Washington Post, the lawsuit "alleges that Snapchat was equally responsible for the cause of the crash because the company did not delete the miles per hour filter from the app after it was cited in similar accidents prior to the...crash." Wentworth is no longer able to work due to the brain damage caused by the accident. 

This particular case might not have been limited to a car accident claim. At the time of the accident, Wentworth was on shift as an Uber driver. Over the past few years controversy has surrounded whether Uber drivers would be recongized as independent contractors or employees. If Uber drivers were recognized as employees, Wentworth could possibly have a workers' compensation claim.