In what may be a harbinger of many lawsuits to come in California and elsewhere, a couple has sued Apple, Inc. in Santa Clara County claiming that the lack of a safety shut-off on its iPhone caused their daughter's death in a rear-end collision. The plaintiffs are claiming that Apple is responsible for their daughter's wrongful death because it failed to install automatic lock-out technology in its iPhone Face Time app.
The accident occurred on Christmas Eve 2014. The father had stopped for a traffic jam on the freeway when the family's Toyota Camry was struck from behind by an SUV that was traveling 65 mph. The SUV climbed over driver's side of the Camry and critically injured the father and his daughter. The daughter was taken to a nearby hospital where she died from her injuries. According to the police, the driver of the vehicle that hit the Camry had been using FaceTime on his iPhone at the moment the collision occurred.
The complaint alleges that Apple had received a patent for a "driver handheld computing device lock-out" in 2008 but that it had chosen not to use the technology in its popular iPhones. As alleged in the complaint, the technology uses the GPS system to calculate a vehicle's speed and to shut down devices such as smart phones if the vehicle exceeds a prescribed speed. The plaintiffs allege that Apple was negligent because it failed to use reasonable care in deciding to omit the technology from its iPhones.
Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident in which use of a smart phone or other hand-held device may wish to consult an attorney who handles auto accident cases. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and law of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and loss of companionship.
Source: KTLA News, "Parents Sue Apple, Point to FaceTime in Death of 5-Year-Old Daughter Killed in Texas Car Crash," Dec. 29, 2016