Last fall, an 18 year-old girl crashed into another car at a claimed speed of over 100 miles per hour. Now a victim from the other car has brain damage, and is suing Snapchat, which the girl was allegedly using just before the incident.
One Snapchat filter called the “speed filter” puts a big “X MPH” overlay on pictures, allowing Snapchat users share with their friends how fast they’re traveling in real-time.
Christal McGee, an 18 year-old waitress in Georgia, was allegedly using that filter while driving three of her friends home in her dad’s Mercedes C230, the New York Daily News reports. The lawsuit claims that McGee wanted to hit 100 miles an hour so she could take a picture, overlay the filter, and show off how fast she was going to all her friends.
She allegedly got up to 113 MPH, and shortly thereafter crashed into an Uber driver in his Mitsubishi Outlander. An accident reconstruction specialist estimated that the Mercedes was going 107 mph just before it impacted the other car.
McGee hit her head on the windshield, and her friends had some cuts and bruises, but the Uber driver, Wentworth Maynard, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.
Now Maynard is suing Snapchat, arguing that the Snapchat filter “facilitated McGee’s excessive speeding.” The lawsuit, which you can read here, also says that because the app gives users trophies for sending pictures with filters, it’s essentially incentivizing high-speed driving.
The Law Offices of Michael Lawson Neff are taking on the case, aiming to get McGee and Snapchat to pay for medical bills and life-long care for Maynard, who, the law firm says, struggles to walk and is left with “difficulties in communication, memory loss, and depression,” adding on their website:
It must be asked to what extent Snapchat weighed the risks of its miles per hour filter before releasing it as a product into the stream of commerce. Did its developers consider the impact it could have on the life of someone like Wentworth Maynard?
Then they went on to insinuate that Snapchat doesn’t care about its users:
Or did they not think much of the public at all, figuring some amount of damage would be permissible, the kind of thing Ralph Nader calls the “institutionalized, recurring violence stemming from the activities of the business classes” that’s now seen as incidental to the production of goods and services?
And then attorney Michael Terry added that Snapchat should be held responsible because they produced a dangerous product:
Snapchat has an obligation under the law not to place dangerous items into the stream of commerce, and they have a responsibility to act reasonably to take steps to eliminate risks associated with their products.”
It should be noted that the Snapchat filter clearly states “please do not snap and drive” when activated.
We reached out to Snapchat, which issued a statement defending its practices:
No Snap is more important than someone’s safety. We actively discourage our community from using the speed filter while driving, including by displaying a “Do NOT Snap and Drive” warning message in the app itself.
In addition, the picture-messaging app company says the speed filter has plenty of uses, and that many people take snaps while running, and while passengers in various vehicles. They go on, saying their terms of services agreement clearly denounces distracted driving.
The company also said that, contrary to the law firm’s claims, the app does not offer in-app trophies to people who use the speed filter.