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Why are distracted driving victims suing Apple?

When Americans take driving education courses, they learn that individual decision-making while behind the wheel can dramatically impact one’s own life and the lives of those near one’s vehicle. While drivers are encouraged to make safe decisions, many voluntarily embrace more dangerous approaches due to ignorance, apathy or necessity. Distracted driving behaviors are particularly reckless because it is now generally understood that voluntarily distracting oneself while driving may result in deadly consequences.

Apple provides services that motorists regularly distract themselves with. While Apple is not responsible for the individual choices that drivers make, some argue that the company is responsible for limiting the ways in which drivers can become distracted while driving. These individuals insist that Apple’s failure to take certain precautions (coupled with the personal choices of motorists who opt to drive while distracted) is costing Americans their lives.

Both individual and class action lawsuits are being filed against Apple in regards to distracted driving prevention challenges. In general, these suits allege that Apple is far more concerned with profits than public safety. While this in and of itself is not necessarily an illegal ranking of priorities, plaintiffs may be able to successfully argue that Apple is negligent enough in the handling of its technology that it owes compensation to certain accident victims.

As an alternative to a compensatory settlement, one class action is seeking to compel Apple to implement a “lock-out” feature on its phones. Apple holds the patent for this feature but chooses not to utilize it. When turned on, this lock-out feature would aid drivers in avoiding some of the most distracting elements of their phones.

These cases illustrate that even in situations where a driver voluntarily distracts him or herself, there may be reasons to hold others accountable for the damage caused by a resulting accident.

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