Is Your Smartphone Responsible For Your Auto Accident?

Technology is supposed to, in theory, make our lives better. But when two different technologies converge sometimes the effect results in injuries and death. That technological convergence is the automobile and the cell phone. Separately one allows us to travel while the other allows us to communicate…together though, the combination can result in a deadly game called distracted driving that leaves families devastated.

Distracted driving is getting so prevalent that cell phone manufacturers are now being named in lawsuits along with the driver who used the phone which lead to the accident. In fact Apple, the manufacturer of the iPhone, in 2014 applied for a patent to help disable their phones from displaying notifications to users while driving a vehicle. It would take three additional years before the iPhone would get such a preventative mechanism. Unfortunately, with all good intentions, that update that was supposed to help curtail distracted driving came with an off switch. Users of the phones were able to disable the feature and use their phones while driving.

Apple designed that feature to give people a choice if they were a driver they could turn it on and if they were a passenger they could switch to the off position and enjoy their phones. Apple designed the phone with a sensor that monitors motion through it’s built in GPS which uses a doppler effect to calculate distance per time traveled. As I said good intentions and all.

However good those intentions were, they were neglected in the infotainment center of the car’s dashboard. You see, although Apple designed all new iPhones (those with iOS 11 and above) with that shut-off feature they didn’t install that into their onboard navigation app. That app allows drivers to use voice commands to summon Apple CarPlay to answer phones calls and text messages.

So can Apple and other smartphone manufacturers be sued for injuries caused by distracted drivers using those cellular devices and apps while driving? The short answer is yes. Anyone or any company can be named in a lawsuit. The long answer though is that it depends on the situation and circumstance of the accident, and if indeed the phone was the distraction or if it was in fact human error.

In a California lawsuit, a family claims that the use of Apple’s Facetime app caused their child’s death. The family was stopped at an intersection when a driver who was distracted while video chatting rear-ended their vehicle killing their daughter in the collision.

Of course, Apple maintains their innocence and says the responsibility is with the driver to avoid distractions while behind the wheel. And they suggest that their phones come with Airplane Mode, Silent Mode and Do Not Disturb Mode, all of which can be used to mute incoming calls, texts and notifications.

An auto accident can change the course of a person’s life in a split second. An injury can have a far reaching impact on an entire family if a family member is unable to work, if hospital or home nursing care is required, or if the injured person’s ability to contribute to the operation of the household is altered. We offer over thirty years of service to people who are dealing with the consequences of brain injuries, head trauma, back pain and back injuries, internal organ injuries, neck injuries (sometimes called whiplash injuries), broken bones, paralysis, fractures, tears, numbness, nerve pain, concussions, burns, disfigurement and scarring, and permanent disability and impaired ability to work.

As soon as we are retained, our legal team begins working to establish liability on the part of the driver responsible for the crash. This includes interviewing witnesses, analyzing the crash scene, and on occasion hiring experts to prove the accident was caused by the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of the other driver. Acts of negligence that typically lead to a crash include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Reckless driving
  • Cell phone use while driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Failing to yield
  • Disobeying a traffic signal
  • Making illegal turns
  • Running a stop sign
  • Running a red light
  • Driver fatigue or inattention

The Law Offices of David W. Holub is a personal injury law firm located in Merrillville, Indiana, focused on providing efficient and effective client-centered representation. Our mission is to provide top quality legal representation, which includes an uncompromising pursuit of our client’s legal interests, while being accessible and attentive to our clients during times of personal challenge.

If you’ve been injured and are looking for answers we invite you to make use of the information on our website, and to call our law office at (219) 736-9700 to schedule a time to talk directly to us and see firsthand if we are the right law firm for you.

If you would like to learn more about personal injury law, we encourage you to listen to our Personal Injury Primer Podcast where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law. And read “Fighting For Truth: A Trial Lawyer’s Insight Into What It Takes To Win” an entertaining and enlightening book pulling readers into the courtroom giving them a glimpse of the legal process and what it takes to win at trial.

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