A couple in Texas has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming the popular FaceTime app caused the distraction that set off a fatal car accident in which their five year old daughter was killed. Parents James and Bethany Modisette are suing Apple for damages on the basis that the smartphone and tablet maker failed to install and implement a “safer, alternative design” for FaceTime.You can find the entire lawsuit documentation here.
The lawsuit also states Apple failed “to warn users that the product was likely to be dangerous when used or misused”.
The accident that caused the death of the Modisette’s child happened on Christmas Eve 2014. The couple was in their Toyota Camry when they slowed to a stop because of police activity ahead. Unfortunately, the driver of the Toyota 4Runner that was behind them was using the FaceTime app to talk to friend.
“As a result of that distraction, his Toyota 4Runner, while traveling at full highway speed (65 mph), struck the Modisette family car from behind, causing it to be propelled forward, rotate and come to a final rest at an angle facing the wrong direction in the right lane of traffic,” the suit says.
Garrett Wilhelm was driving the 4Runner during the fatal car accident. “Wilhelm told police at the scene that he was using FaceTime on his iPhone at the time of the crash, and the police located his iPhone at the crash scene with the FaceTime application still active,” the suit claims.
Wilhelm was indicted on manslaughter charges by a grand jury in Denton County, Texas. He has been out on jail since August of last year.
For quite some time, we have urged drivers to avoid any use of a smartphone while driving. Apps like Facebook, Snapchat, FaceTime and basic texting can be very distracting. In the very near future, it will likely be the case that companies like Apple and Google create a lock system that turns the phone off or locks it when it is traveling at a certain rate of speed; say, over 10 miles per hour.