In January, Utah resident Lauren Rosenberg used her cell
phone to download walking directions.
Google Maps subsequently led her to a four-lane boulevard without
sidewalks; while crossing the road, she was struck by a passing car. Unsurprisingly, Rosenberg is suing the driver
of the car who hit her – but has also named Google as a defendant as
The lawsuit states that Google should have known that the
street that the directions indicated was a rural highway with vehicles
traveling at a high rate of speed, lacking pedestrian sidewalks – and that they
therefore had a duty to warn of these dangers.
For instructing her to use the "dangerous path" for her trip,
Google allegedly caused the plaintiff severe physical, emotional, and mental
injuries, including pain and suffering and medical expenses in excess of
$100,000. She is seeking a judgment for
medical bills, loss of income, diminution in earning capacity, legal costs, and
Rosenberg's lawyer says that the image that the media
has painted of his client as ignoring her own safety to blindly follow
directions without regard to common sense is an unfair one. He asserts that Google essentially
"created a trap" with incorrect and unsafe instructions that
Rosenberg relied on to her detriment.
But even if Google does have a duty to warn, have they
really fallen down on that duty? When
viewing Google maps on a computer, it actually gives a disclaimer :
"Walking directions are in beta.
Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian
paths." Additionally, the iPhone
application version of Google Maps displays the abbreviated warning
"Walking directions (beta): use caution." At what point is such a warning
sufficient? Though perhaps the larger
question is, as we become more and more reliant on technology, do the Googles
of the world owe us a higher duty of care?