Friday, April 29, 2016

Georgia crash victim suing Snapchat over ‘speed filter’

Lawyers for a Georgia man who suffered a traumatic brain injury are suing social media app Snapchat in connection with the crash, claiming the company’s so-called “speed filter” encourages reckless driving, and was a critical cause of the crash involving the victim and a teenage driver.

Attorneys representing Wentworth Maynard, an Uber driver from suburban Atlanta, are suing the Los Angeles-based image messaging application over its “miles per hour filter” which allows users to overlay the speed at which they are traveling onto their photos and videos taken in the application.

Maynard was merging into traffic on an Atlanta highway when his vehicle was struck by a car going 107 mph. The crash has reportedly left Maynard with traumatic brain injuries and unable to care for himself, according to a statement by his lawyer, Michael Lawson Neff.

The crash occurred at approximately 11:15 p.m. when Maynard’s Mitsubishi SUV was rear-ended by a Mercedes sedan driven by Christal McGee, a waitress who was had just gotten off work and was taking three of her co-workers home. The lawsuit contends that McGee was using the Snapchat filter at the time of the wreck to post a video of herself traveling in excess of 100 mph. The speed limit on that particular stretch of road is 55 mph.

The suit seeks damages from Snapchat and McGee for negligence and loss of consortium.

In a post on its website, the law firm alleges that the speed filter has contributed to accidents in Brazil, and fatal crashes in the U.K., Kansas City, and Philadelphia. It also notes that popular NBA players Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors and Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons have received negative attention for posting photos and videos on the app while driving at excessive speeds.

“It’s alarming that people have used Snapchat’s miles-per-hour filter to document themselves driving at high speeds,” the statement reads. “But it’s hardly a surprise. The premise of the software is that these just-for-fun images will disappear forever, after all. What is more puzzling is that after evidence has emerged documenting this behavior – a behavior which puts the public at risk for high speed car crashes – Snapchat has shown no concern for public health, neither admitting responsibility nor moving to delete this feature from its app.”

Released in 2011, Snapchat is one of the most popular photo and video apps in the world. The company claims its user share is between 6 and 7 billion videos per day.

In a response to an article about the lawsuit posted on automotive blog Jalopnik, the company issued a statement saying “no snap is more important than a person’s safety.”

“We actively discourage our community from using the speed filter while driving, including by displaying a ‘Do NOT Snap and Drive’ warning message in the app itself,” the statement reads.