Cellphone makers can block texting while driving -- should they?

Are you able to disregard your mobile phone if a text message comes through while you are driving? After a 2013 distracted driving accident in another state that killed an SUV driver and a passenger, and paralyzed a child, the families of the crash victims filed a product liability lawsuit against Apple. They allege that Apple knew that drivers would use their mobile devices to text, and did nothing to prevent it.

Apple has the technology

A magistrate reportedly recommended the dismissal of the case, doubting that attorneys would be able to prove the fatal crash resulted from the driver using the iPhone. However, this court case has given rise to a question about the responsibility of manufacturers of wireless devices and cellphones to stop drivers from using these devices illegally or in ways that would endanger themselves and others. You may be surprised to learn that there is evidence to show that Apple has patented technology that could be used to prevent drivers from texting while operating vehicles, but the company is yet to install it.

According to evidence unearthed by lawyers in the product liability lawsuit, the patent office granted Apple a patent in 2014 for an application they made in 2008. This was for the lock-out technology for certain functions by which sensors would detect use by a driver of a moving vehicle. However, it seems the different cell phone manufacturers are all avoiding being the first company to deploy such technology.

Who will be first to deploy the text block?

Legal experts claim the companies like Apple, AT&T, Verizon and others acknowledge that public education, laws and enforcement fail to address the issue, but they continue to provide drivers with the option to turn off the phones rather than not leaving the decision to the drivers at all. Texting while driving is illegal in the District of Columbia and 46 states, but drivers continue to do it. Apple says it offers apps by which drivers can use voice activation to listen to incoming texts and respond by orally composing text messages, but a person who studies driver attention says this does not eliminate the distraction.

You can pursue recovery

Are you suffering the consequences of a crash that resulted from another person's distraction by a mobile device? You might be facing mountains of medical bills and require long-term treatment, or face life without a loved one whose life was lost in such an accident. If this is the case, you are entitled to pursue recovery of financial losses and emotional damages through the civil justice system.

However, proving that cell phone use caused a crash can be challenging, but you need not fight this battle on your own. An experienced attorney in North Carolina can provide the necessary guidance and support. A skilled lawyer will evaluate the circumstances of the accident and determine whether you have a viable product liability claim against the mobile device manufacturer. You might also have a viable personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver. Your attorney can assist with establishing negligence and navigating the legal proceedings in pursuit of a monetary judgment.