The family of a man from North Carolina who died after following Google Maps directions and driving his car off a collapsed bridge is suing the internet giant for negligence, claiming it knew about the collapse but did not update its navigation system.
A complaint was submitted on Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court alleging that Philip Paxson, a medical device salesperson and father of two, drowned on September 30, 2022, when his Jeep Gladiator slid into Snow Creek in Hickory. Google Maps allegedly instructed Paxson to cross a bridge that had collapsed nine years earlier and was never rebuilt while he was returning from his daughter’s ninth birthday party via an unknown neighborhood.
“Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words they can understand because, as an adult, I still can’t understand how those responsible for the GPS directions and the bridge could have acted with such little regard for human life,” his wife, Alicia Paxson, said in a news release.
It was reported by state troopers that there were no barricades or warning signs along the washed-out road where Paxton’s body was discovered in his flipped-over and partially submerged truck.
According to the claim, he had driven off an unsecured ledge and crashed around 20 feet below.
The original developer’s company had dissolved, according to the North Carolina State Patrol, and neither local nor state authorities were responsible for maintaining the bridge.
The complaint lists many private property management firms as defendants, alleging that they are in charge of maintaining the bridge and the nearby area.
According to the lawsuit, numerous people had alerted Google Maps about the collapse in the years before Paxson’s passing and had pushed the firm to update its route data.
A second Hickory resident used the map’s “suggest and edit” function in September 2020 to inform the firm that it was sending traffic across the collapsed bridge, according to email records included in the legal complaint on Tuesday.
Google acknowledged receiving her complaint and examining the requested adjustment in an email sent in November 2020, but the lawsuit asserts that no further action was taken.
A representative for Google, which has its headquarters in California but keeps a registered office in Raleigh, declined to comment on the complaint right away.