Holcomb & Hyde LLC
Can Apps Be Held Liable for Causing Accidents?
While most people know that driving in Ohio while using a cellphone is illegal, some drivers continue to do so. Can the app that a driver is using at the time of an accident be held liable for causing a collision? A 2021 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals doesn’t indicate that the makers of phone apps can be held liable, but the court stated that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act doesn’t protect sites and app from protection over what users post.
Revival of Snapchat Speed Filter Case
The issue involves reopening a case dismissed in 2020 where a Snapchat user caused an accident while driving at more than 120 mph. The 20-year-old driver, who was killed in the crash along with two passengers, was using the app to provide live content and thought he would get an award from Snap Inc. for his actions. The driver’s parents sued Snap, saying the app and its speeding filter encouraged users to drive at unsafe speeds.
Snap has a checkered history in various state courts involving car accidents. A 2016 case in Georgia brought by a driver hit by a Snapchat user attempting to reach more than 100 mph with the filter was initially found in favor of the plaintiff but then was reversed by a Georgia appeals court.
Is Section 230 Supreme Court Bound?
So far, the Supreme Court has refused to hear any cases involving Section 230. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling revisits an earlier landmark ruling against Roommates.com regarding discrimination and several other high-profile lawsuits that don’t protect social media sites for conduct that could result in harassment or car accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a driver using a cellphone, working with an experienced attorney may help you get compensation. Your attorney might use the driver’s phone records to show that they were distracted and negligent at the time of the crash.