6/14/2018Georgia Court Green Lights Snapchat Speeding Selfie Lawsuit
Georgia Court of Appeals allows injured driver to sue Snapchat for allowing users to take selfies while speeding.
Is Snapchat liable for a car accident that happened while a driver was showing off her high speed with a photo filter? The Georgia Court of Appeals last week decided that the issue is important enough that it should not have been tossed out by a trial judge.
On September 10, 2015, Wentworth Maynard was behind the wheel of his gray 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander when it was struck by a speeding white 2005 Mercedes C230 on Tara Boulevard in Lovejoy. Maynard, an Uber driver who suffered permanent brain damage, filed suit after learning the Mercedes driven by eighteen-year-old Christal McGee had hit those speeds because she was trying to achieve a high speed to overlay on top of a Snapchat photo. Heather McCarty described what she saw as a backseat passenger just before the collision.
"I looked in the front, and saw Christal McGee holding her phone," McCarty explained in an affidavit. "I told her I was pregnant and asked her to slow down. Christal responded and said she was just trying to get the car to 100 MPH to post it on Snapchat. She said 'I'm about to post it.'"
As that happened, the Mitsubishi pulled out of an apartment complex. McGee was distracted and never saw the SUV. The Mercedes was traveling at 107 MPH at the time of impact.
Maynard's lawyer argued that Snapchat was negligent in offering virtual trophies to users who uploaded pictures using the speed filter. The company argued it was immune from the suit under a legal safe harbor provision that prevents Internet service providers from being held liable for what their users do online. The three-judge appellate panel decided this immunity does not apply.
"In the instant case... there was no third-party content uploaded to Snapchat at the time of the accident and the Maynards do not seek to hold Snapchat liable for publishing a Snap by a third-party that utilized the Speed Filter," Judge William McCrary Ray II wrote for the court. "Rather, the Maynards seek to hold Snapchat liable for its own conduct, principally for the creation of the Speed Filter and its failure to warn users that the Speed Filter could encourage speeding and unsafe driving practices."
The case will now head back to the trial court for further proceedings.