A Texas couple has filed suit against Apple, claiming that its FaceTime app distracted a driver who caused the accident that killed their 5-year-old daughter on Christmas eve.
Parents James and Bethany Modisette are suing the electronics giant on the basis that they had the technology and recourses to implement a “safer, alternative design” that would prevent drivers from using the app while traveling at highway speeds.
The 2014 Accident That Killed Moriah Modisette
The lawsuit filed in December of 2016 refers to the crash that took the life of 5-year-old Moriah Modisette.
According to the lawsuit, the Modisette family was driving in a Toyota Camry on Christmas eve with daughter Moriah in a booster seat, and her sister, Isabella in a rear seat.
The Morissette’s slowed their car due to police activity ahead on the highway, when another driver, Garrett Wilhelm, failed to slow down and struck the Morissette’s car at a full highway speed of 65 mph.
Wilhelm was allegedly distracted by the FaceTime app when he struck the Morissette’s car.
As a result of the collision, the Toyota Camry was propelled forward, rotated, and came to a final rest at an angle facing the wrong direction in traffic.
Wilhelm’s car rolled up and over the left side of the Modisette’s car, causing severe damage to the driver’s side. Rescue workers had to extract father, James Modisette and 5-year-old Moriah from the wreckage.
James and Moriah were both severely injured in the accident. Moriah was airlifted to an area children’s hospital where she later died from her injuries.
FaceTime “Failed To Warn” Drivers Of Potential Risk
During the accident investigation, Garrett Wilhelm told police that he was using FaceTime on his iPhone at the time of the collision.
According to the suit filed in 2016, “Apple failed to configure the iPhone to automatically ‘lock-out’ the ability to utilize FaceTime while driving at highway speeds, despite having the technical capability to do so.”
Wilhelm was indicted on manslaughter charges by a grand jury in Denton County, Texas. He was released on bail in august, and has a jury trial case scheduled for February 27th of 2017.
Apple does not comment pending litigation, and has not released a statement regarding the suit.
Apple Not The First To Come Under Fire For Car Accidents
New technology has impacted vehicle safety for years. As more and more apps and technologies are introduced to cell phones, distracted driving has taken different forms.
Drivers of accidents often admit to viewing text messages or checking email while behind the wheel, but recently, we’ve been reporting on different apps from cell phones. Both Snapchat and Facebook live were recently cited in accidents that left young adults seriously injured.
Cell phones have the technology to detect when they are travelling at highway speeds. Safety advocates argue that this is enough to warrant warnings before the use of any app, but opponents often argue that drivers would simply claim to be a passenger and use the device anyway.
After A Distracted Driving Accident
If you or a loved one is injured in an accident that was caused by a distracted driver, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
A personal injury attorney will likely gather social media and app evidence so that a claim can be made on the driver’s insurance company. Most distracted driving cases will not go to such an extreme as to file suit against the app or phone company itself, however a personal injury lawyer will look into the options for ensuring that his or her clients are compensated for medical bills, lost wages, and any other losses.
If you’ve been injured in a distracted driving accident, call Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at 314.444.4444 to schedule your free consultation.