Can Apple Be Held Liable For A Driver Causing An Accident While Texting On An Iphone?

Car accident fatalities are on the rise.  Why?  You probably know (especially if you regularly read this blog):  Smart phone texting and social media.  Drivers, especially young ones, are crashing as they gaze down at their phones.  Sure the texting driver is liable, but is anyone else?  What about the friend that was texting to the driver and who knew he was driving?  An appellate court last year in New Jersey said, yes, that guy can be liable, too.

But here’s a new twist:  What about Apple or other companies that make the phones that are distracting us?  What if I told you that Apple has a powerful technology that can detect when the person using the phone is driving a car, and that the same technology can block access to the phone when that is happening?  Shouldn’t Apple be liable for having failed to implement that technology?  After all, it is now well known that social media is an “addiction” and some of those who are glued to their screens can’t seem to help themselves from “sneaking a peek” even while driving in heavy traffic.

Can Apple, or any of the other smart phone producers, be held liable?  That’s what a new lawsuit in Texas will help decide.  The product liability lawsuit, filed against Apple by families of the victim of a car crash caused by a texting driver, contends that Apple (1) knew its phones would be used for texting while driving, (2) had gone so far as to design technology to block drivers’ phones from being operational, but (3) did not deploy the life-saving technology.

What is Apple’s excuse for not deploying its driver-blocking technology?  Apparently Apple claims the software can accidentally shut down a passenger’s phone, too, which would be unacceptable to most customers. But insiders say that Apple is really worried about being the ONLY phone company to prevent drivers from using their phones.  One Apple representative was quoted as saying, “If you’re at Apple or you’re at Samsung, do you want to be the first to block texting and driving?” he said. “A customer might say, ‘If Apple does it, then my next phone is a Samsung.”

Solution?  Legislation.  What we need is good laws that REQUIRE phone companies to deploy this new technology.   This will level the playing field; The customer who wants to continue to text-and-drive will have no phone company to switch to.

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani

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Syracuse NY Auto Accident Lawyers
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