A Georgia court of appeals has revived a personal injury lawsuit that claims Snapchat’s speed filter is to blame for a 2015 Georgia car crash. The suit was previously dismissed in 2016. Now one family has a greater chance of recovery and safety advocates have a second chance at eliminating the app’s dangerous speed-filter.
Serious Accident While Driver Used Snapchat Speed Filter
An 18-year-old driver was distracted using Snapchat’s speed filter to capture a selfie when another driver pulled onto the highway. Christal McGee struck Maynard Wentworth’s car at around 11:15 PM going almost twice the legal speed.
Later that night McGee, the young Snapchat user, posted a snap while in a neck brace and bloody face saying “Lucky to be alive.”
Maynard was supposed to start his shift as an Uber driver. Instead, he was the victim of a serious speeding accident. Maynard spent five weeks recovering at the hospital. He now suffers from permanent brain damage and is no longer able to care for himself. Now he and his wife are seeking damages to cover his current and future medical bills.
Maynard’s accident attorneys say that “Snapchat’s speed filter facilitated McGee’s excessive speeding. McGee was motivated to drive at an excessive speed in order to obtain recognition through Snapchat by the means of a Snapchat ‘trophy,’” said the lawsuit.
Snapchat’s speed filter allows users to display the speed at which they’re moving while taking a photo. At the time of the crash McGee and Maynard were traveling on a road whose speed limit is 55 mph. McGee was believed to be traveling 107 mph at impact.
Speed Filter Used During Previous Accidents
Prior to this incident, there was already reason to believe that Snapchat’s technology could be encouraging drivers to engage in reckless driving. Unfortunately this is not the first incident of drivers using excessive speed while taking a Snap. Do prior incidences show that Snapchat knowingly continued to allow users access to an app feature that encourages dangerous driving speeds?
Despite previous lawsuits, a petition on change.org, and several injury crashes, Snapchat’s speed-filter can still be used by drivers.
Lawyers of the Maynards say that Snapchat has a “responsibility to act reasonably to take steps to eliminate risks associated with their products.” The original lawsuit says that it has failed to act reasonably because the speed filter is has not still not been removed.
Now that may change with the revival of the case in Georgia courts.
Revival of the case signals that Snapchat is not immune from litigation under the federal Communications Decency Act. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2016 by Judge Josh Thacker, ruling that Snapchat had immunization from CDA because it was a publisher of third-party content (and not a content provider.)
Lawsuit Previously Dropped, Now Evaluates Snapchat’s Design of Speed Filter
Georgia Court of Appeals Judge, William Ray II, wrote in 2018 that Snapchat is not shielded as a publisher, because it is also an information content provider. Ray wrote that the case is different because the lawsuit “does not seek to hold Snapchat liable as a speaker or publisher of a third party user’s content. Rather they argue that their complaint seeks to hold Snapchat liable for the negligent creation, design and maintenance of the Speed Filter that encourages excessive speeding, not for the posts themselves.”
Because of this decision, now the Maynards will get their chance to seek justice by getting their day in court. McMinn Law Firm will continue to follow this case as information is released. Check back here for more information.