Family sues Apple after fatal wreck involving FaceTime use

The family of a 5-year-old girl killed in a auto crash is suing Apple because the driver of the other vehicle was using FaceTime, a live-video streaming application developed by Apple.

They say Apple should be held accountable because it had a patent for a safer version of FaceTime that was created to prevent people from using the video and voice calling app while driving.

According to Courthouse News, the patent was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office in April 2014 but it was never implemented in the app. Many states have enacted bans on texting or the use of mobile devices while driving, but a striking number of people still check their phones or text while behind the wheel.

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As a result, Garrett Wilhelm, 22, was able to use FaceTime while driving 65mph on Interstate 35 near Dallas on Christmas Eve in 2014, when he slammed into the back of the Modisettes' vehicle, which had slowed with other vehicles because of a traffic accident, say police.

Another driver, Garrett Wilhelm, traveling in his Toyota 4Runner in the same direction and behind the Modisette auto, allegedly had his attention diverted by his use of the FaceTime app, the suit says.

The almost 5,000-pound SUV tore into the Camry, then rode up over the driver's side. Both James and Moriah were rushed to local hospitals where the young girl eventually died from her injuries. The app can now be found on every phone released after the iPhone 4.

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"Wilhelm told police at the scene that he was using FaceTime on his iPhone at the time of the crash, and the police located his iPhone at the crash scene with the FaceTime application still active", the suit claims. Wilhelm is now facing a jury trial regarding manslaughter charges, which is due this February.

James and Bethany Modisette, the parents of the child, are suing the tech giant for damages saying the company failed to install and implement a safer design that would have kept the driver from using FaceTime while driving, the lawsuit, filed December 23 in California Superior Court in Santa Clara County, states.

At the time of the collision in question, the iPhone utilized by Wilhelm contained the necessary hardware (to be configured with software) to automatically disable or "lock out" the ability to use [FaceTime] ...

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Apple's products have long since had their critics and their fans alike - but it's not too often that a major lawsuit comes their way. In this case, too, it is stated that Apple faced a lawsuit from the families of those affected.

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