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Snapchat dodges bullet, secures immunity, in distracted driving case, P.2

Last time, we began discussing a recent court decision in Georgia involving the social media application Snapchat. In that case, a couple had sued the company and a driver who had been using the app’s speed filter feature to get up to 100 mph. The crash took place back in 2015 and the couple sued last April.

The case is not the first reported incident of distracted driving associated with the speed filter feature. The couple argued in this case that Snapchat had the legal duty to remove or restrict access to the speed filter feature once it became aware of the risk of distracted driving. 

The judge handling the case ended up dismissing the couple’s claim against Snapchat on the basis of the Communications Decency Act, which specifies that providers and users of interactive computer services are not to be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by other information content provider. The measure is used to protect freedom of expression on the Internet by granting immunity to online intermediaries which publish or host speech that is not their own.

The judge’s ruling in the case was partly based on the threat of opening the floodgates to litigation against any party that can cause a driver to become distracted. The couple, not surprisingly, disagrees with the ruling and is apparently considering a potential appeal. Meanwhile, their claim against the driver stands.

Whether the case will set a precedent for similar cases elsewhere remains to be seen. As this area of law continues to develop, those who are harmed by drivers distracted by cell phone use need to work with an experienced attorney to explore every possible avenue of recovery in their case.