Can Apple Be Sued for Distracted Driving Accidents?

Categories: Car Accidents

Driving While Texting

Experienced Attorneys Fighting for Victims of Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers in West Palm Beach,

Last year, the families of two victims who were killed and a third who was left paralyzed in an accident caused by a distracted driver filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against Apple. According to the court filings, as discussed in the New York Times, the driver who caused the accident was checking messages on her iPhone when she crashed head-on into the victims’ SUV.

The lawsuit raises several interesting questions, as does some of the evidence that the victims’ lawyers unearthed during their investigation.

If Phone Manufacturers Can Stop Distracted Driving, Do They Have a Legal Obligation to Do So?

According to both the New York Times and Time Magazine, Apple and other phone manufacturers have the technological capability to “lock out” people’s phones while they are driving. In fact, Apple filed a patent application for the technology in 2008, which the New York Times reports was granted in 2014. In the patent application, Apple acknowledged the risks of texting and using social media apps behind the wheel:

“Texting while driving has become so widespread that it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the practice. . . Teens understand [the risks], but this is often not enough.”

Yet, many experts doubt that the lawsuit against Apple will be successful. One compared blaming Apple for texting-while-driving to blaming a book publisher when someone decides to read behind the wheel. There are countless similar examples that seem to make clear that blaming a company (such as a gun manufacturer) for a person’s improper use of its product (such as accidentally discharging a gun in a crowd) is contradictory to what we have come to expect regarding liability herein and throughout the United States.

If Apple Loses in Court…

However, the technological aspect may be a key differentiating factor. In the words of a professor at The New York University School of Law, manufacturers are “under an obligation to search for cost-effective ways to [prevent distracted driving]. If such a fix becomes feasible, then they’re obligated to adopt it.” A professor at the University of , Berkeley, School of Law says that Apple, “should’ve done it [already], and even done it at a market risk.” Still, legal minds are clearly divided, and holding Apple responsible would represent a major shift in the legal landscape – particularly since drivers have been texting for years without their makers taking on liability for their mistakes.

Of course, if Apple happens to lose in court, the floodgates will open. If the law suddenly says that Apple, Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and others are on the hook for distracted driving, you can expect courtrooms to be inundated with lawsuits filed by those who have been injured at the hands of those who text, Tweet, Snapchat, and take selfies behind the wheel. It is an interesting potential development, and we will stay tuned as there is more to come.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Call for a Free Consultation.

With four offices in Palm Beach County, Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers represents car accident victims throughout. If you have been injured and would like to speak to a lawyer filing a claim for financial compensation, call me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally at 561-202-6673 now.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.

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