We all know that we’re not supposed to be using our smartphones when driving, but can you blame the smartphone and the content provider of Snapchat when an accident occurs as a result of using their application? Recently, a Tennessee court official answered that question in a surprising way.
Snapchat is a popular smartphone app that allows users to instantly share photos and video taken on the fly. One of its more controversial features is a “speed filter,” which allows you to show how fast you were traveling when the picture was taken. In September 2015, Christal McGee was allegedly trying to reach a speed of 100 miles per hour to post a picture when she collided with a car driven by Wentworth Maynard. The force of the impact drove Maynard’s car across four lanes of the highway and into an embankment. Maynard sustained permanent brain damage and cannot walk as a result of the accident. MdGee, who sustained only superficial injuries, was undeterred, Snapchatting “lucky to be alive” from her stretcher after the accident.
That may sound like an open-and-shut case against McGee, but the court balked at finding Snapchat liable. Judge Josh Thacker dismissed Snapchat from the case, citing the 1996 Communications Decency Act which states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Judge Thacker interpreted this to mean that Snapchat should not be held liable for what its user, McGee, published.
This would make more sense if McGee was looking at her own already-published content, or that of another user, at the time of the accident, but she was not. She was distracted by Snapchat’s app and Snapchat’s proprietary speed filter, not uploaded content. The Maynard’s attorney stated that they were considering an appeal.
Snapchat is not the only app creating problems on the road. We are already seeing stories about the Pokemon Go app, which allows users to chase virtual creatures in the real world using their smartphone. While the app is not supposed to work while driving, it will operate at a low speed and has already been blamed for many collisions.
If you are involved in an auto accident where distracted driving due to smartphone use may have been a factor, it’s important to select a tech-savvy attorney to represent you. Tricia Dennis and Russell King are committed to thoroughly investigating these types of accidents and excited about being part of the process of developing new law that protects the victims of distracted drivers. Please give us a call to discuss how we can help.
Why Wearing A Helmet Is Important But Not Detrimental When You Are Trying To Collect Payment For Damages In A Personal Injury After You Are Involved In A Motorcycle Accident?
This is a question that comes up quite often when clients are discussing their cases after a motorcycle accident. In brief, the answer is “Yes, but with a very important restriction.” In this post, we will take a brief look at the laws behind that restriction.
First of all, the motor vehicle laws of both Tennessee and Georgia require that anyone riding on a motorcycle must wear a helmet because helmets save lives. If you are involved in an accident, the mere fact they you were not wearing a helmet has no bearing on your right to sue for damages because the accident would have happened regardless of what you were or were not wearing.
Although not wearing a helmet will usually result in nothing more than a traffic citation, not wearing a helmet can influence your lawsuit for personal injury damages after an accident.
Both Tennessee and Georgia have adopted a legal doctrine known as the “modified comparative negligence, 50% bar rule.” This doctrine can be quite complicated, but can be explained in general terms as follows.
If you were injured in an accident, you have the right to seek damages from the person who caused the accident even if you were partially at fault. However, if the jury that hears your case finds that you were partially to blame for the accident, any damages that you are awarded will be reduced by the percentage of your contribution to the accident. This can be better illustrated by example.
You were involved in a motorcycle accident and were not wearing a helmet. The jury hearing your case awards damages of $100,000 but also determines that you were 40% to blame for that accident. In the end, you will receive only $60,000 in damages ($100,000 – 40% = $60,000).
If that same jury determined that you were 60% responsible for the accident, you would receive nothing because the laws of both Georgia and Tennessee bar (prohibit) awarding damages to anyone deemed to be 50% or greater responsible for their own accident.
Determination of negligence in motorcycle accident cases can be difficult since there are always factors that must be considered that aren’t always included in a police accident report. Questions of negligence in motorcycle accident cases should always involve a personal injury attorney with experience in such matters.