The family of Philip Paxson, a North Carolina resident, announced on September 20 that they were launching a lawsuit against Google after the man killed himself in a car while following his GPS on Google Maps. The application had advised him to take a collapsed bridge, his family is now suing the digital giant for "negligence".
According to Philip Paxson's relatives, Google failed in its mission by failing to update its guidance system, even though it had the information that traffic on the bridge in question was no longer possible, reports the Associated Press.
A bridge collapsed for 9 years
The man was killed on September 30, 2022 after falling from the Snow Creek Bridge in the city of Hickory, North Carolina (United States) in his Jeep. He was returning from his daughter's birthday party, who was celebrating her 9th birthday, when Google Maps advised him to take a bridge that had collapsed 9 years earlier and had never been repaired.
Police officers arrived at the scene and found Philip Paxson's body in his vehicle turned 6 m below, even though there were no signs or barriers to warn of the danger in the vicinity. Neither the State nor the local authorities were responsible for maintenance and the original company had been dissolved.
"Our daughters ask us how and why their father died and I don't have the dead to explain to them, because as an adult, I still can't understand how the people in charge of the GPS guidance and the bridge could behave with so little regard for a human being," his wife Alicia Paxson told AP.
Repeated suggestions to Google
According to the complaint filed by Philip Paxson's family, several people had alerted Google Maps for 9 years, asking the company to act as quickly as possible to update its information. Among the documents attached to the complaint were emails from another Hickory resident requesting the change in September 2020, followed by an acknowledgement from Google in November, with no real action being taken.
A Google spokesperson told the AP that he expressed "utmost compassion" for Paxson's family and added that the investigation of the complaint was "ongoing."