New technologies are accompanied by new liability theories for car accident cases. Earlier this month an Appellate Court in Georgia, overruled a Trial Court that had dismissed a claim brought by a brain damaged car accident victim against Snapchat. A "Speed Filter" technology developed by Snapchat allows users to post the speed at which they are driving and allows for that speed to be superimposed to a Snap before sending it. According to the affidavit of an injured passenger, in September 2015, a teenage driver was claimed to have accelerated her Mercedes Benz to 113 mph while holding her cell phone up to capture and post her speed on Snapchat. Suddenly, a car pulled into their lane of travel causing a horrific crash injuring several occupants, one of whom suffered a permanent brain injury.
The plaintiff argued that they only sought to hold Snapchat liable for designing an application that encourages excessive speeding and failing to warn its users of that potential. The Trial Court threw the case out despite the distraction that cell phone application had created, on the ground that Snapchat is immune to liability under the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA). The Appellate Court sent the case back for trial holding that the CDA only applies to claims that a website such as Snapchat, was the publisher of any third-party content. Here the challenge was to Snapchat's conduct and not that of any third party. Maynard v Snapchat, Court of Appeals of Georgia, June 5, 2018