Lawsuits Hold Apple Liable for Car Accidents

Do you text and drive? It’s not exactly uncommon and according to the US DoT there are about 1.5 million people who are texting behind the wheel at any given moment. But you need to stop this habit. It’s just as dangerous as driving while drunk. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it’s a practice that’s actually 6x more dangerous than a DUI. Among all the car accidents that happened in the US in 2014, more than 1 in 4 (26%, to be exact) were caused by texting while driving.

Can Apple Be Held Liable in a car accident case?

For many, there’s no question that a distracted driver who’s been texting while driving may be held liable for any car accidents that may occur due to this irresponsible behavior. But can a smartphone manufacturer be held liable as well?

That’s the allegation held by a number of lawsuits against Apple, maker of the iPhone. Apple is an especially high profile target especially in a state like California, where 40% of smartphones are iPhones. Two suits have been filed against Apple. Julio Ceja filed a lawsuit in California alleging that his car was rear-ended by a driver who was texting. Another suit was filed in Texas when a girl died when a distracted driver hit the car she was riding in. The driver was using FaceTime at the time of the accident.

Both lawsuits maintain that Apple already had the technological means to have prevented this sort of iPhone use while driving. Apple had a lockout feature for which the company applied for a patent way back in 2008, and the patent was indeed granted in 2014. The suits are asking Apple to install the lockout feature to be put on new iPhones, and that iPhones that have already been bought should be upgraded.

Lawsuit has good arguments on both sides

A few law experts maintain that smartphone manufacturers do have the obligation to do what they can to minimize distracted driving. These experts say that they should find cost-effective methods for this, and that they’re obliged to adopt a fix if it’s feasible.

On the other hand, most law experts do say that a judgment against Apple in this case is unlikely. The suit must be able to prove that the company knew that these accidents were likely because of their inaction, and that Apple had a duty of care to install the lockout feature. Those goals aren’t easy to achieve. It may also set a precedent to hold all manufacturers responsible for all types of possible distracting uses of their products.

If you or a loved one got injured in an accident involving a driver who was texting while driving, consult a personal injury lawyer so you will know your legal options.

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