- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Georgia man severely injured in a 2015 automobile crash is suing Snapchat and a teen motorist, claiming the social media app was partially responsible for the wreck that left him with permanent brain damage.

Lawyers for Wentworth Maynard, a former Uber driver, claim in a recently filed lawsuit that the popular smartphone app “motivated” the teen, Christal McGee, to drive recklessly and cause the near-fatal wreck.

Ms. McGee, then 18, was driving three co-workers home from a Hampton, Georgia, restaurant on Sept. 10, when she opened Snapchat and tested its “speed filter” feature that lets users share photographs along with the speed at which the image was taken, according to the lawsuit, filed April 19.

A passenger in the woman’s Mercedes c230 said the automobile eventually reached a speed of 113 mph — more than twice the 55 mph speed limit — and was traveling at about 107 mph where the car collided with Mr. Wentworth’s Mitsubishi Outlander “so violently it shot across the left lane into the left embankment,” the lawsuit alleges.

“McGee wanted to post an image of herself going fast. She argued that she was, ‘Just trying to get the car to 100 miles per hour to post it on Snapchat,’” attorneys for Mr. Maynard wrote in the lawsuit.

Ms. McGee took a photo of her bloodied face during her subsequent ambulance ride, which she shared on Snapchat with the caption, “Lucky to be alive.”

Mr. Wentworth was hospitalized in an intensive-care unit for more than a month with a traumatic brain injury, his lawyers wrote.

Wentworth would get up on his own, make his breakfast, go to work and cook dinner. Now he’s so tired he falls asleep in his wheelchair during the day,” the victim’s wife, co-plaintiff Karen Wentworth, said in a statement. “We used to sit on the sofa and watch TV in the evening, and Wentworth would hug me. Now, he can’t do that anymore.”

Snapchat is partially responsible for the crash because they failed to remove the speed filter despite being aware of the potential dangers, the suit claims, citing previous incidents abroad in which serious auto accidents occurred while drivers experimented with the feature.

Attorneys for Mr. Wentworth are seeking punitive damages to be determined upon completion of a trial of jury.

In a statement, Snapchat said the company actively discourages users from utilizing the speed filter while driving, and that “no Snap is more important than someone’s safety.”

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