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Google Maps user sues over accident

Google is blamed for directing a pedestrian to a state highway with no sidewalks.

By Karen Datko Jun 1, 2010 4:05PM

File this under "We're not making this up": A woman is suing Google after she followed a suggested Google Maps walking route and was struck by a car.


Lauren Rosenberg looked up Google Maps directions on her BlackBerry on Jan. 19, 2009, to walk from a street address in Park City, Utah, to another Park City location. The directions included just over a half-mile walk on Deer Valley Drive or State Road 224, which has no sidewalks and looks like this.


Her lawsuit seeks at least $100,000. Her pain and suffering could very well be exacerbated by comments across the Web.


"PSA for the day: Google may seem all-powerful and all-knowing, but if it tells you to walk off a cliff, you really don't have to," Kayla Webly wrote in her report about the lawsuit at Time.


From the suit filed by Rosenberg, a Los Angeles resident, against Google and the driver of the car:

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 severe permanent physical, emotional, and mental injuries, including pain and suffering. . . .

The suit says Google "knew or should have known that Deer Valley Road, a.k.a. State Route 224 is a rural highway exhibiting vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed and devoid of pedestrian sidewalks, yet Defendant Google instructed Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg to use that road for her pedestrian travel ...."

You can find the full text of the suit, the mapped route and two photos at Search Engine Land. "I suspect a court is going to find that despite getting bad directions from Google (or a gas station attendant, a local person or any source), people are also expected to use common sense," Danny Sullivan wrote.

Plenty of snarky comments can be found in other locations.


"OK, call me crazy, but if my GPS app of choice gave me directions asking me to walk along a busy highway with no place to walk, putting me in harm's way … you know what? I'd find an alternate route!" wrote James Falconer at intoMobile.

Several bloggers observed that Google Maps routes found via computer contain this warning: "Walking directions are in beta. Use caution -- This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths." Directions obtained via a PDA or cell phone are warning-free. But still ....


But maybe, just maybe, Google is that powerful. (Oh my!) Chris Matyszczyk wrote at CNET News:

In our world of increasingly diminished responsibility, might someone actually be in a position to prove that we are all now subjects of the Googleplex? Those Googlies have filmed our streets, made records of our Wi-Fi data, followed us around the Web until they could offer us ads that are "good" for us. Shouldn't we admit whose the supreme power truly is?
Or might the judge emit a cough and declaim in the finest Latin: "Caveat walker"?

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