back to article Apple sued by parents of girl killed by driver 'distracted by FaceTime'

A family is suing Apple after their five-year-old daughter was killed by a driver allegedly distracted at the wheel with a FaceTime call on his iPhone. On Christmas Eve, 2014, the Modisette family was driving down Interstate 35W in Texas when a car accident up ahead brought traffic to a standstill. They stopped, but behind …

When I was learning the buttons on my new Jeep's radio, while I was parked, after a few minutes the radio took the time out to warn me, "Drive your Jeep." I appreciated the concern.

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So how?

So how does the phone detect if it's the driver or a passenger using the phone.

I would not be overly happy if I couldn't use my phone on a bus, train, tram or while a passenger in a car.

I understand the family's anguish, anger and the desire to make anybody even vaguely connected with the accident responsible and I'm sure that my anger and distress would cause me to to try and do something.

However I do see this as a lawyer steering them in the wrong direction (and more for his own benefit than the family)

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Re: So how?

"So how does the phone detect if it's the driver or a passenger using the phone."

Well Waze does it in a simple minded but effective way. If you try to enter address details while driving it puts up a timed dialog box that tells you not to input text while driving. It also refuses to let you enter text and simply counts down then reverts to navigation.

To ensure that anyone who is a passenger in a vehicle can use the app the dialog box has a "passenger" button. Of course the selection of this option is recorded. If you use it as a driver there is then evidence that you deliberately chose to over-ride the safety warning. This is not going to look good in court.

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Re: So how?

"To ensure that anyone who is a passenger in a vehicle can use the app the dialog box has a "passenger" button. Of course the selection of this option is recorded. If you use it as a driver there is then evidence that you deliberately chose to over-ride the safety warning. This is not going to look good in court."

Unless, of course, you actually HAVE a passenger (even if he/she wasn't the one actually using it), giving you an alibi.

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Medical

Could this be one of those weird US situations where you're pretty much forced to sue someone to get your medical expenses covered, like the Jennifer Connell case?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/jennifer-connell-aunt-who-tried-to-sue-12-year-old-nephew-says-she-was-forced-to-after-insurance-a6694671.html

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Kind of see the point..

Aside from the possibility (probability?) that it's a medical insurance requirement (Thank ${DEITY} for the NHS)...

Apple have publicly declared that they can stop this happening, and pretty much by doing so stopped anyone else trying to do it either...

But then haven't done it.

If a company advertises that they have this great new safety feature - shouldn't we all be allowed to think it might get implemented?

As an aside I've been driven by someone making a FaceTime call. They were looking at the road, but their d/Deaf wife was lipreading...

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Re: Kind of see the point..

"Apple have publicly declared that they can stop this happening, and pretty much by doing so stopped anyone else trying to do it either...

But then haven't done it."

Because too many people pointed out that GPS and cameras have no way to tell the difference between an actual driver and a driver's-side passenger in the back seat. If a passenger was unable to do something and a death resulted (unable to report an accident or crime in progress, for example), Apple could get sued there, too. Dilemma: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

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Re: Kind of see the point..

So they've filed a patent on something they can't do?

Maybe the patent office needs to be pulled in as a co-defendant?

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Re: Kind of see the point..

They can do it, just realized idea is flawed. Many patents like that

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Re: Kind of see the point..

The problem though is that Apple have pretty much stopped anyone else from trying anything similar for fear of being sued or stung with patent licensing fees. Like most patents which are applied for without a working model, it's wide ranging in its description and so makes it very, very difficult to work around.

This is exactly the sort of situation I had in mind when I suggested in another comment thread that these type patents should have a limited life span where there is no evidence of either a product, a prototype or even research for, say, 12 months, then it's rescinded.

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Re: Kind of see the point..

Thing is, it wouldn't take that much effort to produce some kind of prototype, appease the lawyers, and go on their way. Many already have prototypes, and for many the bar of "working model" is too high. Just look at medical patents.

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Wtf

So it's not the drivers fault for their daughters accident it's Apple FaceTime's fault raah f'd up world we live in

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It's stories like this that genuinely make me wonder just how many people would swap their firstborn for their equivalent weight in gold.

Abolish money. Save the world. (something like that...)

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Stop

I'm not a legal eagle, just a humble IT bod, but I can't see how is this the fault of Apple, there is only person at fault and that's the driver of the vehicle who was not paying attention to the road.

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Why is everyone in such a tizzy about this? Or is there evidence to show the family sued Apple to the exception of the driver instead of (much more logically, especially if demanded by insurance) in addition to the driver?

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In some places in the USA, everyone who is shown by a court to be _partially_ responsible for the damage is jointly and independently responsible to pay for the damages. So if a court found that the driver is 99% responsible and Apple is 1% responsible, and damages were granted, then Apple would be on the hook for the complete damages.

Similar things have happened to towns, where some idiot caused a crash, and the lollipop lady hired by the town was found to carry 2% of the responsibility for the crash, and the town had to pay all the damages as a result.

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"So if a court found that the driver is 99% responsible and Apple is 1% responsible, and damages were granted, then Apple would be on the hook for the complete damages."

I'm hoping you just worded that badly. If not, and Apple has 1% culpability but gets 100% of damages bill, the US law is even more fucked up than I believed possible!

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Well then, how can the family of the bereaved sue for damages if the defendant is deceased, destitute, and disowned (IOW, dead, broke, and with no kin to go after)? Hard to squeeze blood out of a stone.

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It's never easy losing someone but I can't see how Apple can be held responsible for this.

It is up to the individual to decide when and where to use FaceTime. If an individual decides to use their phone while driving they are being stupid and down right dangerous but it is their decision and they have to live with the consequences. He decided to use FaceTime while driving so he is responsible for the death of the child.

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Nice idea but just because you are moving doesn't necessarily mean you are in a car. In common with most people, I like to use my phone on the train too.

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Time to..

Personally I would hang the families lawyers... the whole company, and lock up the rest of the family for the rest of their days.

I am no apple fan as people reading most of my comments would know BUT

a) The guy was using coverage provided by a network so sue the network as well

b) The guy was driving a car so sue the maker

c) The guy was on a road so sue the government

d) The traffic was stopped because of another accident so sue the people who stopped the traffic.

The whole thing is ridiculous. Yes the guy shouldn't be using his phone and is being charged with manslaughter as a result, the RIGHT approach.

Stopping people using a phone because it is in a moving vehicle means stopping passengers, kids in the back seat, people eon buses and people on trains... all of which is nonsense. The patent was stupid and pointless if I am honest.

The nearest similar is the current obsession with blocking the internet on car infotainment which means I can't listen to streaming music or news... bloody stupid when I can listen to a radio or cd...

Worry is that this sort of stupid bullshit is also happening in the UK. Time to hang some people for wrecking things for the rest of us.

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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned an even more specious case, where the driver who caused the crash (which killed two people and crippled a third) is suing Apple: http://setexasrecord.com/stories/510631652-woman-checking-messages-on-iphone-causes-fatal-collision-survivors-sue-apple

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To file a patent and then avoid using it is extremely perverse, and also extremely widespread.

This is probably not going to be an effective way to amend patent law, though--nor even get the patent office to do their existing job instead of pushing all the decision-making off to the courts.

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they should sue Toyota for selling oversized killer Tonka toys that crush anything else they hit

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