Apple Liable for Distracted Driving? A Personal Injury Attorney in Phoenix, AZ Weighs In

personal injury attorney Phoenix AZ

Apple is facing yet another lawsuit for their advanced technology. In this instance, Apple is being blamed for an automobile accident that caused a child’s death.

The at-fault driver was using their iPhone at the time they caused the crash, and the reason Apple is now being sued is that the Cupertino, CA-based company has the technology to prevent individuals from using their phone while driving.

For those confused by the case, a personal injury attorney in Phoenix, AZ weighs in to help shed some light on the legal issues, and how Apple may be liable in such a case.

About the Case

Apple is the tech giant behind the iPhone. They are now being sued, according to ARS Technica, for their FaceTime app. The suit alleges that the use of FaceTime caused the death of a five-year-old girl.

The case occurred in Denton County, Texas on Christmas Eve, 2014. A man was using Apple’s FaceTime app on his iPhone when he crashed into the girl’s family’s Toyota Camry. The man was using his FaceTime app and never saw the family’s car stop in traffic.

In the vehicle was the young victim as well as her father, mother, and sister. They all suffered non-fatal injuries.

The family is now suing Apple for damages. They allege that the at-fault driver was using the app, and the company behind the app had the duty to warn the public about the dangers of using it while driving. There is patented technology reserved by Apple which can stop drivers from using FaceTime while operating a vehicle. Because the makers of the app, as well as Apple, did not implement such technology, they are now being held liable for the young girl’s death.

The patent was issued in April 2014, and it creates a lock-out mechanism that prevents iPhone drivers from using specific iPhone services.

Examining the Slippery Slope

A personal injury in Phoenix, AZ could tell a plaintiff that this is a very slippery slope to go down. There are numerous critics of these types of lawsuits, and the law has not yet caught up with the technology. After all, should a fast food company be held liable because someone was eating their hamburgers when they caused an accident?

Manufacturers can be held liable for defects that lead to injuries or deaths. They can also be made responsible if a consumer misuses their products and causes an injury to someone else…but on rare occasions.

Under Arizona’s product liability laws, there are limits on damages for these types of incidents. Also, for a design defect to be applicable, there must be an inherent flaw in the design of the product. Therefore, it is designed in a way that if the consumer used it as they should, it still posed a significant risk to their safety or health.

Also, if the product has a manufacturing defect, such as an error when the product was manufactured and distributed, the manufacturer could be held liable.

When comparing the statute to the Apple case, it is hard to determine if the Apple case qualifies as a defect. The manufacturers did know that their phones are dangerous if used while driving. However, it is up to the user to monitor their behavior while behind the wheel.

In Apple’s own patent filings, they state that they know distracted driving has become a serious issue. Their patent is what harms Apple the most because they blatantly admit in their patent that distracted driving and cell phones are related.

Personal versus Product Liability

In this case, as well as other distracted driving incidents, a personal injury attorney in Phoenix, AZ would most likely go after the at-fault driver, because they are obviously guilty of personal liability. The driver had the duty of care owed to the public not to operate the vehicle while distracted, but they ignored that responsibility. Their failure to follow their duty of attention then caused the accident.

If the Apple lawsuit is successful, and this is not the first lawsuit against Apple for distracted driving tragedies, it may open the floodgates for similar lawsuits against fast food companies, coffee stores, and more.

When it comes to drunken driving accidents, the issue of personal liability typically takes over. Victims do not file suit against the manufacturer of the alcoholic beverage. However, under Arizona’s Dram Shop laws, the victims could sue the bar or establishment that knowingly sold the alcohol to an obviously impaired driver.

So, in theory, Apple could be liable for knowingly providing a dangerous device to a person without taking steps to prevent injury or accident.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Phoenix, AZ

Distracted driving tragedies are incredibly complex. Arizona Statutes will dictate who may be held responsible for the injuries or deaths that result from a distracted driving case – and that may not mean a manufacturer is to blame.

To determine if personal or product liability applies, it is best to speak with a personal injury attorney and have the claim assessed.

The attorneys at Tobler Law have been representing victims for years, and they know what laws apply to injury claims. Leveraging their knowledge and experience, they can help their clients receive the compensation they deserve for their injuries and losses.

Schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney in Phoenix, AZ at 480-898-9700 or request more information online.