Companies Held Liable for Distracted Driving Accidents
The National Safety Council designates a whole month (April) to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and draw attention to the epidemic that it has become. It’s not enough to raise awareness amount young drivers. Society as a whole, including corporate America, must understand the consequences of failing to prevent distracted driving. Large companies who fail to recognize their corporate social responsibility to prevent distracted driving accidents may be vulnerable to personal injury lawsuits.
In April 2016, Today reported about a man who filed a lawsuit against the popular messaging app Snapchat and the teen that was distracted by the app when she struck his vehicle and caused permanent brain injuries. The young woman was using the app’s speed filter, which encourages drivers to post a selfie to record their speed.
The distracted driver was traveling over 100 mph when the crash occurred. According to USA Today, the victim’s lawyer alleges that Snapchat’s speed filter encourages distracted driving. A snapchat spokesperson told USA Today that the company discourages distracted driving with an in-app warning message. A feature that awards trophies for posting high speeds with selfies taken while driving does little to prevent distracted driving accidents.
Trucking and bus companies can be held liability when one of their drivers causes an accident as a result of distraction or drowsiness. Drowsy driving can be considered a form of distracted driving because the driver is not fully aware of his or her surroundings. Their fatigue prevents them from concentrating on the task at hand. Fatigue was cited as the cause of the 2014 Walmart truck accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan.
Pennsylvania injury lawyer Jon Ostroff settled distracted driving lawsuit against Greyhound on behalf of a client injured in an accident caused by a fatigued driver.
“There is a problem at Greyhound, there is not adequate fatigue management for drivers. The real problem is that drivers drive continuously at different times of day. Anywhere from 10 to 24 hours later they’ll get another route,” Ostroff told the Legal Intelligencer.
Ostroff’s client suffered serious bus accident injuries, including a concussion and other brain injuries, as well as head, neck and jaw injuries when the drowsy driver hit the rear of a truck in a Pennsylvania road.
The complaint alleged that Greyhound knew the driver was too tired to operate the bus, but negligently allowed her to do so, anyway. “In my litigation with Greyhound, I’ve found that no one there is monitoring fatigue,” Ostroff said. “There is no supervisor there making sure they’re awake and alert. This is a real, ongoing problem and it’s not getting better.”
Ostroff also handled a distracted driving lawsuit against Greyhound involving a driver who was distracted by his cell phone when he caused a bus crash.
Distraction.gov reported that 3, 129 individuals were killed as a result of distracted driving accidents in 2014 alone. An estimated 1,550 deaths are attributed to drowsy or fatigued driving each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. EndDD.org states that distracted driving is not a teen problem, its’ an everyone problem. Larger corporations like Snapchat and Greyhound who encourage or fail to recognize dangerous driving habits must accept responsibility and take action to discourage dangerous driving habits and promote safety or more lives may be lost.