Snapchat Lawsuit: What Actually Happened on That Georgia Highway?
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.
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