Distracted drivers are sued all the time for crashes caused when they were texting or checking social media when driving in Virginia. However, in an unusual case in Texas a couple is suing software giant Apple over its Facetime app which is blamed on a fatal crash.
The lawsuit stems from a tragic accident on Christmas Eve 2014 that killed the couple’s five-year-old daughter.
James and Bethany Modisette are suing Apple for damages, claiming a safer design of app would have prevented a driver using it while behind the wheel, reported ABC news.
The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 23 in California Superior Court in Santa Clara County. It claims Apple failed to warn app users that the FaceTime product was likely to be dangerous when “used or misused” or failed to provide instructions on safe usage.
The ABC report said the family was driving near Dallas in a Toyota Camry with their five-year-old daughter Moriah in the left rear passenger seat and her younger sister next to her in a booster seat.
The Modisettes saw police activity ahead that caused traffic to back up and slowed down. The lawsuit said the driver of a Toyota 4Runner behind them was allegedly distracted by his use of the FaceTime app.
The Toyota crashed into them at 65 mph, causing the Camry to spin around and end up facing the wrong direction on the highway.
The 4Runner rolled over the driver’s side of the Modisette’s car, the lawsuit claims. The crash caused extensive damage and Mr. Modisette and his five-year-old daughter had to be extracted from the wreckage by emergency crews.
The father was in critical condition while Moriah was airlifted to the area children’s hospital. She later died from her injuries, according to the lawsuit.
The report said the at-fault driver told police he was using FaceTime on his iPhone when he crashed. The lawsuit said the application was still running when police recovered the mobile device.
The Modisettes contend in their legal action suit that the iPhone contained hardware that could have allowed the disabling of FaceTime at highway speeds due to a “lock out” feature. However, Apple had failed to configure the phone to lock it during travel.
The 4Runner driver was subsequently indicted on manslaughter charges by a grand jury, reported the Denton Record-Chronicle. A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 27.
We are concerned about the massive rise of distracted driving crashes in Virginia and elsewhere. Manufacturers of devices and apps have a duty to do everything in their power to prevent distracted driving. Sadly, we have seen the development of many features that only serve to encourage it.
If you have been hurt in a distracted driving crash or lost a loved one, please call us at (757) 455-0077.