Woman Sues Google for Bad Directions
Technology can be fantastic. Consider the power of the Internet, where people can communicate in real time even though they might be in vastly different parts of the world. It has helped to make medical breakthroughs that have saved lives. It allows us to click a few buttons and have fast food delivered right to the door. However, in some cases, technology has caused people to lose a big chunk of their common sense. A couple of years ago, the game Pokémon Go caused people to injure themselves because they weren’t looking where they were going. In 2010, it caused a woman named Lauren Rosenberg to get into an accident.
What Happened to Lauren
Ms. Rosenberg was in Park City, UT, and she was not entirely familiar with the area. She looked up walking directions on Google Maps using her Blackberry. She then set out on the walk and followed the directions that were on her device, even though they suggested that part of the route included a half-mile walk on Deer Valley Drive. At this point, it is important to realize that another name for Deer Valley Drive is Utah State Route 224. In addition, she was walking along the highway at night.
This rural highway does not have any area for pedestrians to walk, and during her time on the road she was, unfortunately, struck by a vehicle. She survived her injuries, but this led her to file a lawsuit against Google. In the complaint filing, it states, “As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google’s careless, reckless and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle, causing her to suffer sever permanent physical, emotional, and mental injuries, including pain and suffering.”
She tried to sue Google for $100,000 and punitive damages, as well as the driver who hit her on the highway, Patrick Harwood.
At the time this occurred, there were warnings on the Google Maps site, when viewed from a computer, that the walking directions were still in beta, and that the route could be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths. This warning did not show up on mobile devices. However, there is still the common-sense factor to consider. Just because there are no directions not to walk along a highway doesn’t mean you should do it, just as you shouldn’t place your hand on a hot stove if there aren’t directions not to do it.
The court granted Google’s motion to dismiss the claims, saying that they “did not owe Rosenberg any duty because it didn’t have a direct legal relationship with her.” If they were held liable for this, it had the potential to open them up to essentially unlimited liability for a host of lawsuits because they are a disseminator of information.
It is important to always slow down a bit when using technology, especially when it comes to directions. You want to make sure that they are accurate and that you stay safe.