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The Issue of Livestreaming Car Accidents


A story that’s been capturing headlines all over the country has drivers more and more aware of just how dangerous certain live-streaming websites have become in playing a part in car accidents. After driving while intoxicated and getting into an accident, 18-year-old Obdulia Sanchez allegedly livestreamed the crash on Instagram as her 14-year-old sister–a passenger in the car who was not wearing a seatbelt–died after being ejected from the car. As a result, Sanchez has not only been booked on suspicion of a DUI, but also of gross vehicular manslaughter.

Unfortunately, this is a somewhat common occurrence these days, as many youth are found using their phones and live-streaming on websites like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook as they drive, and it’s placing everyone’s safety at risk.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

The family of those killed by the accident may have a right to bring a lawsuit for emotional distress even though they themselves did not suffer from physical injuries as a result of the accident. To sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff:

  • Must be near the scene of the accident;
  • Must observe the accident, which then causes significant distress; and
  • Must be closely related to the victim of the accident.

But what does it mean in this day and age to be “near the scene of the accident,” with these live streaming videos available to the general public? What about videos that involve observing the actual injuries, blood, resuscitation efforts, bodies, etc.?

Who Is Responsible?

Also of concern is what role these websites are playing in providing these distracting opportunities to drivers, and whether they should be doing more to prevent these types of disturbing live broadcasts. There are, however, laws that protect websites like these; such as the Communications Decency Act, which dictates that interactive computer services are not liable for what speakers or publishers post. However, there are some exceptions to this liability, such as crime and any violations of intellectual property.

Ultimately, the questions raised here involve both ethical and legitimate concerns about censorship and when it’s appropriate, as well as whether we’ve allowed certain technologies to move forward too fast without enough boundaries.

Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyers

If you have been involved in a car accident due to the negligence of another, you should speak with an experienced, dedicated car accident lawyer at Friedland & Associates right away. Not only will you need to seek compensation for the medical expenses and property damage that you have endured, but you should also be compensated for your injuries, pain and suffering, and any future medical costs that you will incur. Contact our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers today to find out more.



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