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Georgia Accident Victims Sue App Maker

It is important to examine the circumstances of a Georgia car accident closely to determine whether someone other than a driver is partially or fully to blame for an accident. In a recent Georgia appellate decision, a couple sued a mobile device app company for negligence and loss of consortium arising out of a car crash that they claimed arose from the app’s speed filter.

The plaintiffs claimed that the car accident had happened on September 10, 2015. The passenger in the back seat of the at-fault driver’s car alleged that she’d looked up to notice the car accelerating upwards of 80 mph. She allegedly asked the at-fault driver to slow down and said she was pregnant. The at-fault driver said she was trying to get the car to 100 mph to post it on the app. The car hit 113 mph before the at-fault driver let off the gas, and then the couple’s car came out of an apartment complex.

Due to the accident, the husband-plaintiff suffered permanent brain damage. The app was one that permitted users to take videos and photos and then share them with friends. It also has filters that permit a user to lay a drawing, graphic or words over their videos and photos. One filter was a speedometer to show the speed of the user’s vehicle.

Although the couple alleged the at-fault driver was using the app and going more than 100 mph at the time of the accident, they didn’t claim that the picture was uploaded prior to the crash occurring. The couple sued the at-fault driver and the app company. They claimed the app company knew its users could use the app in a way that could distract them from following traffic laws and that the filter itself encouraged dangerous speeding and had facilitated the at-fault driver’s speeding. The lower court granted the app company’s motion to dismiss, finding that the company was immune to suit under the Communications Decency Act because the app merely published third party content, and didn’t create the content.

The couple argued that the lower court had made a mistake in granting the motion to dismiss on the basis of immunity under the Communications Decency Act. The appellate court agreed. It explained that section 230 of the Act immunized providers of interactive computer services against liability stemming from third-party content. The immunity is given only if the service provider isn’t also an information content provider or somebody that’s responsible either partially or fully for the creation or development of the offensive content. The purpose of the law is to provide protection for the display of content created by another.

For immunity to apply, a Georgia appellate court has previously decided that: (1) the defendant needs to be a provider or user of an interactive computer service, (2) the asserted claims need to treat the defendant as a speaker or publisher of information and (3) the communication at issue must be information given by another information content provider. In this case, the parties had not disputed whether the company was interactive computer service provider. The couple’s theory of liability was that the app encouraged excessive speeding; they didn’t make claims about the actual posts and they hadn’t claimed the at-fault driver actually posted.

The appellate court distinguished this case from earlier cases that tried to find liability where content was at issue. However, in this case, there was no third-party user content published at all. Accordingly, the appellate court declined to address whether the couple’s complaint was trying to hold the company liable for the communications of another content provider. The appellate court found that any remaining arguments by the company related to charges of negligence were disputed and had not yet been ruled upon by the lower court. They sent the case back for the court to decide the last arguments.

After a car accident, you may be concerned about paying for medical bills and taking time off work. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover damages. Stephen M. Ozcomert possesses over 20 years of experience representing people injured in car accidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Call us today at (404) 370-1000 to schedule a free initial consultation, or you can reach us through our website.

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