The family of a North Carolina man has filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging negligence on the part of the tech giant, after he tragically lost his life in a car accident. The crash occurred when his vehicle plunged into a creek under a collapsed bridge, and it’s claimed that the misleading directions provided by Google Maps contributed to the incident, according to the Associated Press.
On September 30, 2022, state troopers made a grim discovery when they found Philip Paxson’s overturned pickup truck submerged under a bridge that had collapsed almost ten years prior.
Philip Paxson, aged 47 and a resident of Hickory, North Carolina, which is situated approximately 60 miles northwest of Charlotte, was on his way home from his daughter’s ninth birthday celebration when the accident happened.
In a Facebook post by his mother-in-law, it was revealed that neither the destroyed bridge nor the road leading to it had any barriers or warning signs to alert drivers to the potential danger.
The Facebook post read,
“It was a dark and rainy night, and he was following his GPS, which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. It was a totally preventable accident. We are grieving his death.”
Aside from Google, the lawsuit filed by the Paxson family also includes several private property management companies responsible for the land where the crash occurred and the surrounding areas.
In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Google stated, “We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family. Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps, and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”
Further Details Emerged Regarding Negligence Lawsuit Against Google
Legal representatives for the Paxson family claim that multiple individuals had previously attempted to alert Google to the washed-out bridge.
They have submitted email correspondence from a Hickory resident who used the “suggest an edit” feature in 2020 in an effort to prompt the company to address the issue. According to the attorneys, Google never responded to this suggestion.
Alicia Paxson, Philip Paxson’s wife, released a statement, saying,
“Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words they can understand because, as an adult, I still can’t understand how those responsible for the GPS directions and the bridge could have acted with so little regard for human life.”
This tragic incident has brought attention to a broader issue of deaths potentially linked to GPS navigation.
In 2020, an 18-year-old Russian motorist lost his life after following a Google Maps route through Serbia’s perilous “road of bones.” In 2019, a truck driver in Jakarta, Indonesia, drove off a cliff after relying on a Maps route intended only for motorcycles, as reported by the Straits Times.
In 2015, 51-year-old Zohra Hussain died in a fiery car accident in Indiana after her husband, who was following his Nissan Sentra’s built-in GPS, drove off an unmarked toll road leading to a demolished bridge. Her husband, Iftikhar Hussain, sued the state of Indiana over the lack of barricades, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In 2010, a pedestrian also sued the tech giant for supplying unsafe directions in its Maps tool after she was hit by a car on a Park City road. The pedestrian, Lauren Rosenberg, sought $100,000 in damages after the accident when she tried to cross a busy state highway with no sidewalks at night and was struck by a car.
These incidents, among others, have raised questions about the accuracy of the directions provided by Google Maps. Recently, the company replaced fuel stations with charging points for electric vehicle drivers on its Map tool, offering a convenient solution for those in need of a quick power-up.
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