Photo and video messaging app Snapchat is being accused of “motivating” a car crash that left a man from the US state of Georgia with permanent brain damage.
The victim, former Uber driver Wentworth Maynard, is suing the $20 billion company over the incident, claiming the app instigated the driver who rammed into him last September to drive at excessive speeds while taking selfies.
The lawsuit alleges Snapchat was “the critical cause” of the collision, due to its live filter tracking the speed of users travelling in their various modes of transport, which can be overlaid on top of snaps.
Court documents state Mr Maynard and his wife were merging onto a highway near Atlanta when they were hit by Christal McGee’s vehicle, New York Daily News reported.
Mr Maynard alleges Ms McGee was hammering down the motorway at more than 160km/h while taking selfies with Snapchat’s speed filter.
The suit states the app “facilitated McGee’s excessive speeding” and “distracted” her leading up to the crash.
Ms McGee was travelling about 172km/h with three passengers when she hit Mr Maynard’s Mitsubishi Outlander, the lawsuit says.
The woman continued to snap even after the accident, as a picture released by Mr Maynard's attorneys shows the woman in an ambulance stretcher, with tubes attached and blood running down her face, below the caption, "Lucky to be alive."
Mr Maynard says the collision left him with brain damage, unable to work.
It is unknown if Ms McGee or her passengers suffered serious injuries as a result the collision.
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The lawsuit demands unspecified damages from Snapchat and also names Ms McGee as a defendant.
“We’ll see to it that Christal McGee is held responsible, but we also want to see Snapchat held responsible,” one of Mr Maynard’s attorneys said in a statement.
“This is a product liability case because Snapchat put something very dangerous in the marketplace without any warnings or safeguards, and basically said, whatever happens, happens,” attorney T. Shane Peagler said.
Snapchat recently added a warning to its speed filter, visible to users the first time they activate the filter, heeding the caution: “Please, DO NOT Snap and drive.”
The company declined comment, saying the matter was with the court.