Monday, May 31, 2010

Woman sues Google after being hit by a car

A woman in the US is suing Google after she claims Google Maps issued incorrect directions which sent he onto a busy road where she was hit by a car. Lauren Rosenberg is demanding $100,000 from the company in a case filed at the US District Court's Central Division in Utah. Rosenberg is also taking legal action against Patrick Harwood, the man who hit her.

The plaintiff had searched for walking directions on her Blackberry from 96 Daly Street, Park City, Utah to 1710 Prospector Avenue, Park City, Utah. The 1.9 mile [3 km] route led Rosenberg along Main Street into Dear Valley Drive, a major highway also known as State Route 224. A clear warning on the site states that "walking directions are in beta" and to "Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths". 

The website also posts a disclaimer which reads, "These directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, weather, or other events may cause conditions to differ from the map results, and you should plan your route accordingly. You must obey all signs or notices regarding your route." However such warnings are not always displayed on mobile devices and Rosenberg believes has a case. 

"The Defendant Google expects users of the walking map site to rely on the accuracy of the walking directions given," said Rosenberg's filing. "As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google's careless, reckless and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle, causing her to suffer sever permanent physical, emotional, and mental injuries, including pain and suffering," it added [V3 / Mashable / Search Engine Land]

The action has been described as ludicrous by some. "If Google told you to jump off a cliff, would you?" one headline read in Fortune read. One can only hope the courts display more common sense than the woman concerned. Google has yet to comment on the filing.

This is not the first time Google has attracted attention over sending people in the wrong direction. As a joke, users attempting to get directions which required the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean were instructed to swim the vast expanse of water. The so-called 'Easter-egg' was later removed. A simple crossing of a road in Sydney attracted attention after Google Maps suggested a 10 km route which also resulted in a $3 road toll [Register].

As regards Ms Rosenberg's filing, Microsoft might consider themselves lucky she was using Google Maps and not Bing. Their walking instructions also send pedestrians onto State Route 224 where the hapless plaintiff encountered Patrick Harwood's car.

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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