Pedestrian’s Google Maps lawsuit

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When people think about lawyers they always seem to generalize the profession in terms of a few outlying cases.  The one that comes to mind is the utter disbelief that people felt towards the McDonald’s coffee case.  It seemed clear to everyone, myself included, that a case against McDonald’s for having hot coffee was nonsense.  {The facs of the McDonald’s Coffee case can be found in other posts on this site and the movie “Hot Coffee.”}  However, this seemingly groundless case gave critics of the judicial system a point of reference in their critique of an “out of control” judicial system.

This was the first thought that came to mind when I read about a Los Angeles woman who has filed a lawsuit against Google and a Salt Lake County man after she was hit by a car while walking down a street as directed by Google Maps.  The injured Plaintiff stated in her lawsuit, that she used Google Maps to find walking directions in Park City, Utah, and was directed to walk down a major road where vehicles travel at a high rate of speed and there are no sidewalks.  She further alleged that she was hit by Patrick Harwood who was driving “negligently,” which caused severe injuries.  Her lawsuit is seeking more than $100,000 in damages.  With just a cursory investigation of the site, you will discover that the road she was walking down was in a 35-40 mph zone and was only “a major road” because of its connection to ski resorts.  This information, along with the fact that the City Park paved trail, which connects to her destination, was less than 30 feet from where she alleges she was “directed” to walk, raises some questions.

My fear is that this case will be cast in a similar light to the McDonald’s case and provide further basis for criticism.  Generally, people must use ordinary caution when following directions just as a jogger or cyclist needs to be alert and aware of their surroundings.  Most lawyers files serious lawsuits involving major issues and injuries.  I fear that a select few cases cast the profession and judicial system in a bad light while ignoring the work of the majority.  This post was prepared by ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. law clerk and George Mason University law student Shawn Shook.

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