Safety and OSHA News

Uber driver sues Snapchat in crash that caused severe brain injury

An Uber driver is suing Snapchat, claiming the app company is at least partially responsible for a crash that left him with a severe traumatic brain injury. The driver claims the operator of the car that hit him was using Snapchat’s speed filter at the time of the crash. 

Police say on Sept. 10, 2015, Christal McGee, 18 at the time, was driving at night with three friends in her car in Hampton, GA.

McGee and her passengers claim a vehicle driven by Wentworth Maynard drifted into their lane and caused a crash. McGee lost control of her car and ran off the road. Maynard had just started his shift as an Uber driver.

A reconstruction of the crash finds McGee was driving 107 m.p.h., according to a lawyer representing Maynard.

The lawyer also released another bit of information: a selfie, taken by McGree while she was strapped to a gurney, face bloodied, with the caption, “lucky to be alive,” and sent to friends via Snapchat.

Now Maynard has sued McGee and Snapchat to recoup all costs for the crash and his injuries.

In a New York Times interview, McGee family members contend the crash was Maynard’s fault for drifting out of his lane. Police haven’t filed any charges in the case yet, and say it’s possible both parties could be found partially at fault. Police say there had been conflicting reports from McGee’s passengers about how fast she was driving.

While McGee also suffered injuries in the crash, she was able to finish high school and work at a part-time job.

3,000 distracted driving deaths per year

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 8 people are killed and more than 1,100 are injured each day in distracted driving crashes.

The National Safety Council has called on governments and businesses to ban use of any electronic device – hand-held or hands-free – when driving. Many jurisdictions have laws against hand-held use, but so far, no state has a ban on hand-free operation.

Attorney Jack Greiner with Graydon Head & Ritchey notes the lawsuit claims Snapchat knew before the crash that wrecks had occurred while the app was used when driving at high speeds. The lawsuit suggests that knowledge makes Snapchat liable in the McGee-Maynard crash.

Snapchat issued warnings about using the feature while driving.

Greiner notes an act has to be reasonably foreseeable for the responsible party to be liable.

“If it wasn’t foreseeable,” Greiner opines, “why warn against it?”

Does your company have a policy regarding cell phone use while driving? Let us know about it in the comments.

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