An 18-year-old girl is being sued after she allegedly crashed her car while playing with Snapchat’s “speed” filter, leaving a passenger in the car she hit with brain damage.
Both Snapchat and driver Christal McGee are named in the lawsuit filed in Spalding County, Georgia, by Wentworth and Karen Maynard, according to a civil complaint.
The Snapchat "speed" filter uses GPS technology to determine how fast the user is moving.
The lawyers representing the couple said in a statement that the lawsuit is targeted at both parties because Snapchat should have known the filter had dangerous implications.
"Snapchat has an obligation under the law not to place dangerous items into the stream of commerce, and they have a responsibility to act reasonably to take steps to eliminate risks associated with their products," one of the lawyers, Michael Terry, said.
The lawsuit alleges that at around 11:15 p.m. Sept. 10, McGee was driving with three of her friends when she opened Snapchat and started sending pictures to her followers as she sped with the app's "speed" filter open.
"McGee wanted to post an image of herself going fast," the lawyers said in the statement. "She argued that she was, 'Just trying to get the car to 100 miles per hour to post it on Snapchat.'"
The teen was distracted by the app and slammed into Wentworth Maynard's car at 107 mph, the lawsuit states.
"The passenger in McGee's Mercedes saw the speed on the Snapchat filter hit 113 miles per hour," the lawyers said. "McGee said 'I'm about to post it.' At that moment, the passengers saw the Mitsubishi ahead and screamed."
After the crash, McGee allegedly continued to Snapchat her injuries, writing "lucky to be alive."
McGee and her passengers were treated for minor injuries, but Maynard, an Uber driver, suffered permanent brain damage in the crash, his lawyer said. Maynard can no longer be left alone as a result of his injuries, and his family members have become his caretakers.
"Wentworth would get up on his own, make his breakfast, go to work, and cook dinner," Maynard's wife, Karen, said in the statement. "Now he's so tired he falls asleep in his wheelchair during the day. 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."
The couple's lawyers argue that not only should McGee be held liable in the crash, but Snapchat should have also known their product and the "speed" filter would have encouraged distracted driving and speeding.
The lawyers described multiple instances in which Snapchat was involved or thought to be involved in distracted driving.
"It must be asked to what extent Snapchat weighed the risks of its miles per hour filter before releasing it as a product into the stream of commerce," they said. "Did its developers consider the impact it could have on the life of someone like Wentworth Maynard?"
A spokesperson for Snapchat told BuzzFeed News that the app discourages people from using the filter when they are driving.
"No Snap is more important than someone's safety," the spokesperson said. "We actively discourage our community from using the speed filter while driving, including by displaying a 'Do NOT Snap and Drive' warning message in the app itself."
The couple is asking for damages in the case.
A previous version of this post misidentified an image as being of McGee. That photo was actually from an earlier incident.
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Stephanie McNeal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.