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Lawsuit Claims Google and Others Responsible for Tragic Death Attributed to the Maps App

Google Maps gave 47-year-old Philip Paxson directions that led him to drive off a collapsed bridge to his death alleges a lawsuit filed against Google and others by the North Carolina man’s family. Paxson was driving home from a party for his daughter’s ninth birthday party on September  30, 2022, when according to the lawsuit, the Google Maps app directed him to drive over a bridge that collapsed in 2013.

Per Gizmodo, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Paxson’s widow, Alicia. The law firm representing the family issued a press release saying that “directions from Google Maps misguided him to his death over a long collapsed bridge.” Paxson and his family had just moved from Florida to Hickory, North Carolina; since Philip was unfamiliar with the area, he relied on Google Maps for navigation. But in the dark and the rain, the app was leading Paxson toward a bridge that was called the “Bridge to Nowhere” by locals for a decade.

State troopers who reported to the scene and recovered Mr. Paxson’s body noted that there were no signs or barriers to warn drivers about the collapsed bridge. According to the press release, people living in Hickory, North Carolina, where the collapsed bridge was located, tried to get Google Maps to route traffic away from the collapsed bridge and to get the owners of the bridge (co-defendants with Google) to put up barriers and warning signs. The residents also wanted the owners of the bridge to repair it.

Robert W. Zimmerman, one of the attorneys representing the Paxson family said, “For nine years, the community of Hickory was needlessly and senselessly placed at risk, when a road-bridge collapsed in 2013, and when one of the largest companies in the world refused to correct its mapping algorithms despite repeated pleas. 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.”

Honestly, this should worry all of us who depend on a mapping and navigation app to get around, especially when it is dark outside and visibility is poor. If you’re driving in an area that you’re not familiar with, it might not be a bad idea to call the non-emergency phone number of the police department in the city of your destination and ask them if there is anything about the local roads that you should know about.

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