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Car accident victims sue Apple over distracted driving feature

Emergency response personnel in West Virginia and around the country are being called to more and more accidents caused by distracted drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked electronics manufacturers like LG, Samsung and Motorola to incorporate smartphone features that make texting and driving more difficult, but a class action lawsuit filed by a group of California road users suggests that Apple has already developed just such a safety feature.

The lawsuit claims that Apple developed a feature that prevents drivers from texting in 2008 and earned a patent for the safety technology in 2014. However, the company has never made the texting lockout feature available to its customers. The plaintiffs, who all suffered injuries in accidents caused by distracted drivers, want Apple to include the feature in its newest devices and offer it to current iPhone owners.

If the case goes to trial, the plaintiffs will be asked to establish that an increase in distracted driving accidents was a foreseeable consequence of not making the safety feature available to the public. Experts say that accident and sales statistics could make this a difficult argument for Apple's attorneys to win. The popularity of the iPhone has allowed Apple to earn an impressive 40 percent share of the U.S. smartphone market, and data from NHTSA, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Safety Council all points to texting while driving as being a leading cause of traffic accidents in the United States.

When dealing with litigation of this type, experienced personal injury attorneys may approach negotiations purposefully. The defendants in these cases risk a great deal when they take their chances in open court, and they often seek to resolve such matters as quickly and privately as possible to avoid expense and negative publicity.

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