When allegedly negligent conduct leads to a traffic accident with injuries, it is common for victims to seek compensation from the offending motorist and his/her insurer. However, in one of the more highly publicized car accidents thus far this year, a motorist and social media company Snapchat are both named as defendants.
The lawsuit, filed on April 19, 2016, in State Court in Spalding County, Georgia, seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. Among other things, the suit alleges that the design of the miles-per-hour Snapchat filter poses inherent risks, and that it therefore violates Georgia state law. The suit also claims that Snapchat has not shown adequate concern for public health, and that it has not admitted responsibility or moved to delete the speed filter from the Snapchat app. According to the New York Daily News, Snapchat does warn its users not to use the app while driving by stating, “Please do not snap and drive.”
Permanent Brain Injury
The plaintiff is a 47-year-old married man who allegedly suffered multiple injuries, including a permanent brain injury, when a Mercedes crashed into his SUV on September 10, 2015. He has been unable to return to work since then. The suit further states that the man’s weight dropped from 165 pounds before the wreck to 115 pounds prior to the court filing. In addition to compensatory and punitive damages pertaining to the brain-damaged victim, the lawsuit also seeks compensation for the loss of consortium suffered by his wife.
At approximately 11:15 p.m., four workers left a suburban Atlanta restaurant after concluding their shifts. They left in a white Mercedes C230 driven by one of them. They proceeded northbound on Tara Boulevard, a four-lane highway with a 55 mph speed limit. The Mercedes in which they were riding collided with a 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander as its driver attempted to merge with traffic in Hampton, Georgia.
Use of Speed Filter Alleged
According to passengers in the Mercedes, the 18-year-old driver was using the speed filter in Snapchat at the time of the crash. She allegedly announced her intention to accelerate to 100 mph, despite the protestations of her passengers, one of which was pregnant. One of the passengers later stated that she say the Snapchat speed filter display a 113 mph reading at one point. This claim was corroborated by accident reconstruction specialists that calculated a 107 mph speed at impact.
Five People Injured and Hospitalized
All four occupants in the Mercedes required medical treatment. In fact, the driver continued to post on Snapchat after the accident. She took a photo of herself strapped to an ambulance gurney with a word overlay that stated, “Lucky to be alive.” The SUV motorist suffered injuries that were far worse. He required five weeks of treatment in an intensive car unit. At first, he could only breathe with the help of a breathing tube. He received nourishment through a feeding tube.
He was eventually transferred from the ICU to a rehabilitation facility where he resided for six more weeks. Once home, he spent months recovering until he could feed himself once again. Due to sustained weakness, he moves about with the aid of a walker and a wheelchair.
Snapchat began in 2011 as a school project authored by three friends attending Stanford University. The company’s market value is approximately $16 billion.
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