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Lawsuit claims Google Maps caused man to drive off a collapsed bridge

Google was reportedly warned about the bridge prior to the accident.

Published onSeptember 21, 2023

Google Maps GPS Nagivation stock photo
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • A family claims Google Maps led a father to drive off of a collapsed bridge.
  • The family is now suing Google, Alphabet, and two local companies claimed to be responsible for maintaining the land and bridge.
  • Residents have reportedly notified Google Maps about the hazardous bridge previously.

Google Maps is a helpful app that can usually get you from point A to point B quickly and safely. However, Google Maps didn’t work the way it was meant to for one North Carolina man. A family is now suing Google for an unspecified amount in punitive damages. The lawsuit claims the navigation app led the father to his death by instructing him to drive through a route with a collapsed bridge.

As reported by CNN, the lawsuit says Philip Paxton was driving home from his daughter’s 9th birthday party late at night in September 2022. Using the Google Maps app, he was directed to drive through an unmarked and unbarricaded bridge that had collapsed back in 2013.

It appears that Google was even warned about the bridge prior to the incident. The family’s attorney, Robert Zimmerman, claims that Google received complaints from the public demanding the company fix its directions to mark the road as closed.

For years before this tragedy, Hickory residents asked for the road to be fixed or properly barricaded before someone was hurt or killed. Their demands went unanswered. We’ve discovered that Google Maps misdirected motorists like Mr. Paxson onto this collapsed road for years, despite receiving complaints from the public demanding that Google fix its map and directions to mark the road as CLOSED.

One of those complaints reportedly came from an unnamed woman asking Google specifically to update its navigation system. “You are not able to cross this road,” says the report. “GPS sends people down here, which is especially dangerous for emergency vehicles. Please update this map so GPS is accurate.” However, CNN states that it was not able to verify this particular report.

In response to the woman’s report, Google Maps sent an autoreply. That autoreply said, “Your suggestion is being reviewed. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. We’ll let you know once the changes are published,” according to the court filings.

Google isn’t the only company listed in this lawsuit, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and two local businesses are also being taken to court. The two local businesses are said to be responsible for maintaining the land and bridge. However, the suit claims they failed to repair the bridge or provide proper barricades and warning signs.

In response to the lawsuit, Google told CNN it has “the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family. Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in maps, and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”

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