By on April 29, 2016

Snapchat crash

The trial has all the ingredients needed to garner a nation’s attention: a young female driver, a speeding Mercedes, a dark, rain-slicked highway, a carelessly wielded phone, a potentially dangerous social media app, and a hard-working man left permanently disabled.

The lawsuit against Snapchat and motorist Christal McGee by Wentworth Maynard, the driver of the Mitsubishi Outlander rear-ended by McGee’s C230 outside of Atlanta last September, alleges the social media app’s speed filter played a role in the collision.

McGee was going 107 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone when she hit Maynard, driving fast so she could post a selfie stating her current speed via Snapchat’s “miles per hour” filter, the complainant’s lawyer alleges.

The ride ended in tragedy, with Uber driver Maynard left with a traumatic brain injury that turned his life upside down. McGee posted a selfie of herself lying on a stretcher following the collision.

Infuriating and outrageous, yes. If the allegations are true.

Terrible crashes happen every day, so the initial burst of reporting stemmed from the lawsuit itself. A social media app being sued for negligence? This is hot stuff.

The facts emerging from the case, however, are sparse.

McGee didn’t actually send a Snapchat selfie that stated her speed. The only Snapchat documentation of the crash is McGee’s selfie from the stretcher. Media reports paint a picture of McGee attempting to go as fast as she could behind the wheel, hitting 113 mph at one point, but they’re drawn from a statement by the complainant’s lawyer, Michael L. Neff.

The police investigation is ongoing. The wet pavement didn’t allow for analysis of either vehicle’s speed, but it’s clear the devastating impact required a very high rate of speed. The police who responded to the crash don’t know how Snapchat made its way into the case, because they never mentioned it.

Snapchat has since added a pop-up warning to its speed filter to deter people from using it while behind the wheel. Putting cynicism to use, it’s easy to see how the app could become the target of a range of litigants.

A Georgia CBS affiliate took a second look at the case, and found a witness who was in McGee’s car at the time of the crash who says the events that night didn’t transpire the way the lawyer claims.

Henry Williams, who claims to no longer be in contact with McGee, told CBS46 that he was in the passenger seat next to McGee at the time of the crash, and said that no phones or Snapchat apps were in use.

Williams claims that Maynard’s Mitsubishi pulled out in front of the car, but didn’t speed up. Though he can’t accurately recall the speed of the Mercedes, he said he doubts it was 113 mph.

So, what really happened on that rainy highway? Hopefully, the facts will come out during the trial by jury requested by the complainant’s attorneys.

[Image: www.mlnlaw.com]

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28 Comments on “Snapchat Lawsuit: What Actually Happened on That Georgia Highway?...”


  • avatar
    Occam

    “Snapchat has since added a pop-up warning to its speed filter to deter people from using it while behind the wheel. Putting cynicism to use, it’s easy to see how the app could become the target of a range of litigants.”

    I wouldn’t go so far as saying SnapChat is responsible for this, but give kids a social media app that will clock their speed and post it for their friends, and all of us who have been licensed teenage drivers know exactly where this is going.

    It’s not like adults are always wiser. Some of the local bars around me have put in coin-op breathalyzers so people can check their intoxication level. I’ve seen people use it as a game, seeing who can blow the highest. They didn’t leave in Ubers.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      ….I wouldn’t go so far as saying SnapChat is responsible for this, but give kids a social media app that will clock their speed and post it for their friends, and all of us who have been licensed teenage drivers know exactly where this is going….

      I agree fully with your assessment. Should Snapchat be held liable if in fact the speed feature was used? No, but I know what I would have done with it had it been available in 1980..

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        The Polaroid Instamatic was available in 1980. It’s just that the ambulance chasers weren’t as highly devolved back then.

        Also, back before everyone had internet (and when not everyone even had a computer in their home), plenty of guys in my high school compared bragging rights on personal land speed records. We didn’t need some dumb app to encourage us to do that.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Passing around a Polaroid in homeroom of a speedo showing 120 does not compare to the instantaneous sharing on social media. Not even close if my observation of nieces and nephews are any indication. That said, the app did not cause an accident.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Henry Williams, who claims to no longer be in contact with McGee, told CBS46 that he was in the passenger seat next to McGee at the time of the crash, and said that no phones or Snapchat apps were in use.”

    I find this hard to believe, simply for the fact that -after- such a horrible and serious crash where she’d injured someone, she still found the situation appropriate for snapping selfies.

    It’s also a bit ridiculous to place any blame on the app when it’s the user who lacks any common sense. There’s no disclaimer saying “Don’t use Snapchat after a murder to snap pics of your victim.” but anybody with common sense would know not to do so.

    (IMO this falls in the same category as the parents suing the fireworks manufacturer after their intoxicated son put a lit firework on top of his head, and was killed by it. They want warnings on all fireworks “Do not put it on your head when lit.”)

    Furthermore, app or no, she was still traveling at an incredible rate of speed, at night, in wet conditions, on a 35mph road. She is at fault, and is negligent. If she were doing the posted speed and had been pulled out in front of, as suggested, she’d have plenty of time to swerve and/or slow down.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      I’m having a hard time coming up with an appropriate and safe use for an app that does what I’m reading it does.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        On a bullet train or subway would be fine [for the speed indicated filter], as well as being a passenger in an airplane.

      • 0 avatar
        IAhawkeye

        I mean, that’s not the apps main point or use just a feature on it. I see the speed filter used a lot when people are in school or at work and they’ll post a “bored” snap using the filter showing them going 0.

        Of course that’s not everyone and I had a friend actually just the other day send me one from his motorcycle going 105. So it does happen, if it’s that big of a deal I’m sure SnapChat will just get rid of the filter altogether.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “on a 35mph road”

      The article says 55 mph. If the person suing her did in fact pull-out in front of her (as the only witness claims), then 55 mph is enough to cause a serious crash.

      The fact that she posted a selfie later is irrelevant. Maybe she was just trying to tell her friends and family that she was alive.

      It kinda sounds like one party is stirring-up this whole snapchat angle to get a big settlement. Let’s hope the publicity doesn’t prevent her from getting a fair trial (guilty or innocent).

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This girl selfied after the accident?

    Wow…kids these days…

  • avatar
    smartascii

    This accident could have occurred because of a variety of factors, and we’ll probably never know exactly what happened. But while empathy for others and a baseline understanding that I can choose my actions and predict their consequences would make me feel *awful* if anything I did caused another person injury, severe or otherwise, the fact that this lady posted a photo of herself on the stretcher makes me wonder whether she feels the same way. To the extent that she was negligent, sure, she should make restitution to the injured party here, but I just don’t know if you can sue someone into becoming a decent human being.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “but it’s clear the devastating impact required a very high rate of speed.”

    Nitpick time.

    “Very high speed”, yes.

    “Very high rate of travel”, sure.

    Speed is ALREADY a rate (distance/time), so there’s no “rate of speed”, unless you want to talk about acceleration very confusingly.

    So, don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Hear, hear!

      The phrase “high rate of speed” is unintentionally ironic because it is most often used by people who are trying to seem intelligent. Read that again and ponder it for a moment.

      High speed.

      Traveling at high speed.

      Moving at high speed.

      The suh-spect wuz traveling at a hiiiiigh rate of speeeeed.

  • avatar
    George B

    The driver of a car has an individual responsibility to avoid colliding with other motorists. When road conditions become difficult, each driver needs to shut out distractions and focus on driving. Doesn’t matter if the distraction is a conversation with a passenger, listening to music, or a phone app.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      Exactly, but this is the US where no one takes any accountability for their own actions. It’s always someone else’s fault.

      A selfie after the accident????? What a pathetic human being. Actually she doesn’t deserve to be called a human being.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Landshark is just going after the deeper pockets.

    It will come down to what the other people in the car remember if she was using SC or not.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Did anybody query the car’s black box?

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I’m guessing that the data gleaned from both data recorders will be a part of the trial proceedings. If the Uber driver really pulled out in front of the woman, and caused the accident, then she’ll be in the clear.

      Was there really a 52 mph speed differential between the two cars at the time of impact? That I don’t know. But the data recorders should give some guidance.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        The data recorders will be pulled , as well as the phone records. If she was going 100+ and rear ended the guy then she will be at fault. I don’t know about Georgia law but in Kentucky it’s really hard to be blamed when you get rear ended.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    I recall years ago an R&T article back when radar guns were just coming into use. Folks were having “fun” getting their speed (and then their licenses) clocked along the CT Turnpike. Seems they would wait until the wee hours of the morning when traffic was light.

    The out-and-out winner was some dude who brought his ride to the dance in a covered container, and was ‘clocked’ at a STUPIDLY high MPH.

    In his F1 car, which was never caught by the staged cop cars waiting for the morning’s batch of miscreants.

  • avatar
    stuki

    A million accidents is vastly preferable to a single ambulance chaser any day.

    Speeding at that rate and recklessness is a criminal matter. Something harassing third parties not engaged in any criminal activity, ought to be as well.

  • avatar
    bricoler1946

    Did she not trust the speedometerin the car?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Passenger William totally throws her under the bus. “Irrr, I doubt it was 113 MPH”. Wtf??

    “OK sir, would you say, at least 90 MPH??” His reaction tells it all.

    But even if Maynard really pulled out and failed to speed up, he still had to be doing at least 25 MPH, so where does the terrific difference in speed come from? And this minus all the speed she scrubbing off, in the time it took Maynard to round a corner, to fully traveling in the lane ahead of them.

    If she was traveling anywhere near the speed limit, and a *slow motion* Maynard pulls out “point blank”, where she can’t avoid a contact, she couldn’t have slammed him in the rear area.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I fail to see why Snapchat is being sued. This is the fault of the driver and the driver only. Sue the driver and her insurance company on the civil side. Prosecute her criminally for the speeding.

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