Google sued after its Maps leads driver to death on a collapsed bridge

Sep 21, 2023 01:33 PM IST

Family sues Google for negligence after man dies driving off a collapsed bridge while following Google Maps.

The family of an individual who tragically lost his life while following Google Maps and driving off a collapsed bridge has filed a lawsuit against the tech company, alleging negligence.

Philip Paxson with his wife(Facebook)
Philip Paxson with his wife(Facebook)

They claim that Google knew the bridge had been washed out for five years but did not update their navigation system.

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According to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Philip Paxson, a father of two and a medical device salesman, tragically drowned in September of last year when his Jeep Gladiator plunged into Snow Creek in Hickory, North Carolina.

While returning home from his daughter's ninth birthday celebration, he was navigating through an unfamiliar area when, as per the lawsuit, Google Maps purportedly instructed him to cross the collapsed bridge.

“Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words they can understand because, as an adult, I still can’t understand how those responsible for the GPS directions and the bridge could have acted with so little regard for human life,” his wife, Alicia Paxson, said.

Police who discovered Paxton’s body in his flipped and partly submerged truck said there were no signs or barriers along the damaged road.

The lawsuit states that he veered off an unguarded precipice, resulting in a collision approximately 20 feet below.

According to the North Carolina State Patrol, the bridge was not under the maintenance jurisdiction of local or state authorities, and the company belonging to the original developer had ceased to exist.

The lawsuit also names several private property management companies that it says are responsible for the bridge and the surrounding land. It alleges that Google Maps had received multiple notifications about the collapse in the years before Paxson’s death and had been urged to update its route information, but failed to do so.

The court filing incorporates email correspondences from a different Hickory resident who, in September 2020, utilized the map's "suggest an edit" function to alert the company about its route directing drivers over the collapsed bridge.

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A November 2020 email confirmation from Google confirms the company received her report and was reviewing the suggested change, but the lawsuit claims Google took no further action.

“We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family,” Google spokesperson José Castañeda quoted to The Associated Press.

“Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”

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