A North Carolina resident has initiated a legal action against Google, claiming that her spouse tragically lost his life in a fatal car accident in the preceding year. The incident occurred when the deceased was reportedly relying on Google Maps for navigation and inadvertently drove his vehicle off a bridge that had collapsed.
Why did the wife of the deceased driver sue Google?
Per the lawsuit lodged in Wake County Superior Court, Philip Paxson, a devoted father of two and a medical device salesman, met a tragic end on the fateful night of September 30, 2022, in Hickory, North Carolina. The lawsuit contends that Paxson lost his life while adhering to directions provided by Google Maps while navigating an unfamiliar locality, en route to his residence following his daughter’s ninth birthday celebration.
The legal action asserts that the technology behemoth guided Paxson across a bridge that had remained in a state of disrepair for nine long years. Tragically, his Jeep Gladiator plummeted into the waters of Snow Creek in Hickory, resulting in the unfortunate incident.
Alicia Paxson, the widow who is grappling with the loss of her husband, has expressed her deep sorrow and the challenging task of explaining her husband’s untimely death to their daughters. She remarked, “When our daughters inquire about how and why their father passed away, I find myself at a loss for words that can adequately convey the situation. This is because, as an adult, I still struggle to comprehend how those responsible for the GPS directions and the state of the bridge could have shown such little regard for human life.”
The individual navigating with Google Maps was unaware of the bridge as he followed the app’s directions to complete a short 10-minute journey home. The lawsuit contends, “The bridge lacked any form of illumination, and the surroundings were shrouded in complete darkness by 11:00 p.m. While adhering to the hazardous directions issued by Google Maps, Mr. Paxson’s vehicle inadvertently went off the unprotected side of the bridge, resulting in a collision approximately twenty feet below.”
The legal action contends that law enforcement authorities discovered the lifeless body of Philip Paxson inside his overturned and partially submerged truck. Notably, there were no protective barriers or warning signs present along the treacherous route. Paxson’s vehicle veered off an unguarded edge, plummeting approximately 20 feet below, as reported by The Independent.
As stated in the lawsuit, numerous individuals had reportedly informed Google about the bridge’s collapsed condition in the years leading up to this tragic incident. Regrettably, the company allegedly neglected to update its route information, despite receiving these reports. One local resident even claimed to have received an email confirmation acknowledging the report, yet no corrective action was taken.
What is the outcome of the case against Google?
Numerous individuals had brought the matter to Google Maps’ attention in the years leading up to the incident, urging the company to revise its route data, as outlined in the lawsuit. A second resident of Hickory utilized the “suggest an edit” feature on the map in September 2020 to notify the company that it was directing traffic over the collapsed bridge, based on email records presented in the legal documentation. Google acknowledged the complaint and confirmed that they had reviewed the requested modification in an email sent in November 2020. However, the lawsuit alleges that no further action was taken.
In response to the situation, Google spokesperson José Castañeda stated in a press release, “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Paxson family. Our primary objective is to provide accurate routing information through Maps, and we are currently assessing the details of this lawsuit.”
Following the tragic passing of Philip Paxson, his family has initiated a lawsuit seeking unspecified amounts of compensation and punitive damages. They have also formally requested a jury trial to address the matter.