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Can You Sue an App Developer If Your Teen Crashes a Car While Using the App? Three Points to Consider

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Recently, a teen driver in the United States crashed her car while using SnapChat, causing brain injuries to the driver of another car. In response, the other driver attempted to sue both the teen and SnapChat. Unfortunately, with so many Australian teens using SnapChat, this is an issue that extends across the ocean, and if your child has recently been involved in a car accident while using SnapChat or any other app, you may be wondering if you can hold the app responsible for his or her injuries.  

There are a number of factors involved in the viability of this type of case. Here's what to consider:

1. Was the app encouraging your child to use it while driving?

In order to hold another entity responsible for a motor vehicle accident, you have to prove that the entity was negligent and/or directly involved in the accident. For example, if a delivery truck owned by an app company drifted into the wrong lane and crashed into your child, that entity is directly responsible and thus you can bring a lawsuit against them. However, in lieu of that type of situation, you need to look for negligence in other ways.

For example, one could argue that SnapChat encourages drivers to use its app while driving, based on the fact that the app has a filter that shows how fast the car is moving. Arguably, this indicates that the app is intended to be used while driving. In addition, you may argue that the company further motivates people to use the filter because it offers a small virtual trophy to people after they use the filter.

2. Was your child misusing the app?

If you take an app company to court, your lawyer needs to be able to show that your child was using the app as intended by the company. This argument may include details about how the app functioned, as indicated above, but it may also include facts about how the app was advertised. For example, if there was an online ad campaign showing teens using this filter while driving, that creates a solid argument that the company intends for the app to be used that way.

However, the company will likely counter by saying that the app is not intended to be used while driving. In terms of this particular app, a company such as SnapChat may argue that the app is intended to be used by someone in the passenger seat of the car rather than by the driver. If your child was misusing the app, you may not be able to sue the app developer.

3. Was your child breaking the law and thus partially negligent?

Whether you are trying to take an app developer or anyone else to court, it is important to understand the concept of comparative liability. Comparative liability is when you attempt to sue an entity, and the entity counters by showing that you were also responsible for the accident.

In a case involving the use of an app, the app company's lawyer will argue that your child was breaking the law as well, making them at least partially liable for their own injuries. In Australia, it is illegal to use your hands to operate your phone while driving. The laws differ throughout the country, but in most cases, advanced drivers are allowed to operate their phones using voice commands, but people with learner's permits or P1 provisional licenses aren't allowed to use their phones at all while driving. These laws may reduce the chance that you can sue the app company and hold it responsible for your child's injuries.

If your child crashed his or her car while using an app, you may have be able to take the app company to court, but the case can be a tricky one to argue. That is why you need a skilled car accident lawyer in your corner. Wondering if your case is viable? Contact an attorney today.