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Apple sued over distracted driving accidents

The number of road users killed or injured in distracted driving accidents has been on the increase, and a group of California residents who suffered injuries at the hands of distracted drivers have filed a lawsuit against Apple over an unreleased safety feature. The class action litigation calls on the technology giant to offer the feature to current iPhone owners and include it in all future models of the popular handset.

The safety feature that prompted the lawsuit prevents iPhone owners from sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel, and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that it could save lives. The federal safety agency says that motorists who text while behind the wheel are six times more dangerous to other road users then drunk drivers, and Apple's commanding 40 percent share of the U.S. smartphone market could make it difficult for it to deny that releasing the texting lockout feature would have prevented accidents, injuries and deaths.

According to the class action lawsuit, Apple developed the feature in 2008 and was awarded a patent for it in 2014, but it has never been offered for download or bundled into new iPhones. Distracted drivers are involved in about 26 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States according to the National Safety Council, and a U.S. Department of Transportation study came to the sobering conclusion that 1.5 million American drivers are texting rather than watching the road at any given moment of the day.

The defendants in product liability and negligence cases often have good reasons to seek a swift and discrete settlement. Losing a case like this in court can pave the way for a flood of similar litigation and leave corporate reputations in tatters, and experienced personal injury attorneys may be aware of this and approach settlement negotiations with confidence.

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