Google sued over walking directions

Woman sues Google over Utah walking directions

I came across a news report about a law suit in the United States against Google complaining its Google Map had given an unsafe pedestrian route.

Extract from the report of 1 June 2010 reads:Image shows pedestrians crossing road

Salt Lake City — A pedestrian injured by a motorist while following an online route has filed a lawsuit claiming Google Inc. supplied unsafe directions.

Lauren Rosenberg filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking more than $100,000 in U.S. District Court in Utah. It also named a motorist she says hit her.

Rosenberg used her phone in January to download directions from one end of Park City to the other.

Google Maps led her to a four-lane boulevard without sidewalks that was “not reasonably safe for pedestrians,” according to the lawsuit filed by the Northridge, California, resident.

The case has become a sensation on tech blogs, websites and cable television channels, with critics assailing the woman for ignoring her own safety to blindly follow online directions. Her lawyer, Allen Young, said the truth was different.

Rosenberg believed she could reach a sidewalk on the other side of Deer Valley Drive and tried to cross the boulevard, but didn’t even make it to the median, he said.

She was struck by a speeding car on a pitch-black night and received multiple bone fractures that required six weeks of rehabilitation, Young added.

“We think there’s enough fault to go around, but Google had some responsibility to direct people correctly or warn them,” Young said. “They created a trap with walking instructions that people rely on. She relied on it and thought she should cross the street.”

Rosenberg is seeking compensation for medical bills, plus more for lost wages and punitive damages. The lawsuit provided no other information about the woman, who has been misidentified online as a Los Angeles publicist by the same name.

Young said the woman is a native of Northridge in her mid-20s and is unemployed. No phone listing could be found for her.

Google spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo said the company had not received a copy of the lawsuit and couldn’t discuss it, but she disputed Young’s assertion that Google Maps provides no warning that walking routes may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.

Every software version for desktop computers and mobile devices has had that disclaimer since Google Maps was launched in 2008, she said.

Park City police said some segments of Deer Valley Drive have sidewalks but not the stretch that Rosenberg reached. The boulevard has a walking path on the side Rosenberg failed to reach, police Capt. Rick Ryan said.

Young said the walking path was “totally snow-packed” and of no use to pedestrians in January.

You must remember this is a United States case. It is also important to realise the law varies between States. They have punitive damages which are intended to punish an organisation for carelessness. You might think including Google and criticising Google Maps is a tactic to achieve that type of compensation.

If the case was run in this country it is unlikely Google would be included, let alone found liable. A Court in the United Kingdom would not be impressed with such a complaint. Erecting a footpath sign when the path ended at a cliff top might get you in trouble, and providing such a route would get Google Maps in trouble too, but providing a route across a city is unlikely to involve Google in a legal action in the United Kingdom.

This type of case means we will see more disclaimers and warnings, rather like almost every food packet telling you there may be a trace of nuts.

The full report by Paul Foy of The Associated Press an be seen at http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/WeirdNews/2010/06/01/14220536.html

So far as I know this unlucky pedestrian failed in her attempt to sue Google. You can read more here.

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About Mark Thompson

Personal injury and accident specialist solicitor
This entry was posted in Accident examples, Pedestrian road accident. Bookmark the permalink.

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