Confused (and Injured) Pedestrian Sues Google Maps Over Bad Directions

By Joseph Calamia | June 1, 2010 11:26 am

On a midday stroll through Park City, Utah, you decide to turn onto the quaint-sounding Deer Valley Drive. You see this:

road

If you think you should turn back, you are not the intrepid Lauren Rosenberg. Armed with a Blackberry and Google Maps, she marched on, and could not believe when Patrick Harwood struck her with his car. According to Search Engine Land, which first broke the story, Rosenberg is now suing both Harwood and Google.

As CNET reports:

Perhaps some of you might think of Rosenberg as just a perambulating chaser. Yet she and her lawyers reason that Google’s walking directions were “careless, reckless, and negligent providing of unsafe directions.”

But what about Google Maps’ warning to such adventure-seekers? There’s a yellow box that appears whenever you request walking directions using their website: “Walking Direction are in Beta. Use caution–This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.”

Apparently this isn’t enough. On Rosenberg’s Blackberry, the route lacked the warning. She feels this entitles her to over $10,000 in medical expenses.

Though GPS victims haven’t won in similar suits, Rosenberg’s turn in court will soon come. Here’s hoping someone drives her to the hearing.

Related content:
DISCOVER: Think Tech A GPS to Augment Your Entire Reality
80beats: Lost in Space: GPS System May Soon Begin Deteriorating
Discoblog: Teen Sues Mom for Hacking His Facebook Account
Not Exactly Rocket Science: Google Earth shows that cow and deer herds align like compass needles

Image: Google Maps / Danny Sullivan

  • Thomas

    It would make more sense to sue the government for not providing a sidewalk, unless there is an alternative route for pedestrians and cyclists nearby. Besides, if you drive on a road without sidewalks you should still be leave room for pedestrians.

  • Ribert

    I found an image that supposedly showed the route provided by the application. There are a number of side streets paralleling the road in question. One wonders why she didn’t take these when the total added distance would have been minimal.

  • Cambrico

    I think whoever behaves that way deserves being stuck by a car.
    If I was Google I will give the 10.000 to charity under the condition this guy takes a common sense course or something like that.

  • Alicia

    Independent of money, it is a pretty sad situation when someone is attempting to walk somewhere and is hit by a car. I live in France now where there are sidewalks everywhere, a far cry from the Midwest where I grew up that barely had sidewalks outside of the city centers. Was she in the road? Perhaps the donation to charity should go for a bike/walk lane next to the road.

  • Mike

    I doubt that she has a contract with Google to provide her with a walking path, so what makes her think that they should pay for anything? Automobile insurance should pay (hers) under no fault.

  • http://yahoo Jim

    I see a path there in the picture that other people seem to use. Granted, its not a sidewalk, but still a walking path nonetheless.
    As for Alicia, who says there are sidewalks everywhere in France, I doubt that very much. Is there sidewalks in the countryside alongside cow and sheep pastures?? I think not!!

  • Marie

    Give me a break. So suddenly we should remedy one person’s lack of common sense by spending all kinds of money to put in sidewalks next to the road? I pay enough taxes.

  • http://twitter.com/HClemenceau Heather Clemenceau

    This sounds very much like the cases of elderly people who have gotten confused with GPS directions and ended up idling their cars on railway tracks. Would most people proceed close to a motorway no matter what their map indicated?

    It’s too bad the woman was hurt, but honestly, her argument is about as solid as a vampire in the sun.

  • http://scienceblog.com/clock Coturnix

    I think you should attribute this story to the original source: http://jr.ly/3vxj

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/ Eliza Strickland

    @ Coturnix: You’re right, we should have linked to the original story reported by Search Engine Land. We edited the post to include that link.

    — Eliza, DISCOVER online news editor

  • Nathan

    This is another Mcdonalds case. Just makes me and and disgusted. This is why we have to warn people not to eat lightbulbs, or place them in other body orifices. Stupid. She should just own up to the consequences, but then why would she do that when civil court will help her get thousands of dollars for her stupidity?

  • Vickie

    I’m with Marie on this one. Once Lauren realized that there was not a legitimate walking path, why didn’t she turn around? Also, in the photo provided on this website, I noticed a walking path on the side of the highway, was she walking in the road or did the driver swerve off the road? This is the fault of the person driving the car, not Google. Come on, where is common sense? Don’t people have any situational awareness these days or are they just looking for easy money because of the awful economy?

  • Brian Too

    I have not read the original sources and therefore must qualify the following. This *might* not be as stupid as it sounds. Ahem.

    However if it is as stupid as it sounds, I have a proposal. The only monies to be paid out, should go to the driver who collided with the plaintiff. There should be a stipulation that payment is conditional on said driver finding this woman, and HITTING HER AGAIN!!

    Not that I want to further the carnage on our streets. I just wish to support the concept that some people are too stupid to live. What with the lack of large carnivores in our population centers, we simply need another mechanism for thinning down the herd a little. Thank you for listening.

  • jimmy

    What ever happened to the prudent man rule? Oh, she’s a woman! I guess that explains it.

  • Mike

    Just to clear the McDonald’s hot coffee controversy; Google the case and read it. The poor lady was given coffee that was 30 degrees hotter than anyone normally serves hot coffee. She had serious 3rd degree burns that required skin grafts and prolonged hospitalization. The jury found that the act was negligent giving coffee at 190 degrees. McDonalds did this so commutors could have their coffee still hot when the person arrived at work.

    It is tragic for the accident victum and driver that this happended. The case against Google sounds frivolus. If the driver was driving 100mph then it may be the driver’s fault. Have you heqaqrd, don’t quote me, “I saw it on the internet so it must be true.”

  • http://www.joshuacolin.com Joshua Feblowitz

    Seriously, common sense! It drives me crazy that so many acts of poor judgment get turned into lawsuits. I doubt she’d win this, but, for me, that’s not the point. Cases like this clog up the justice system and waste a huge amount of resources. It’s very disturbing to me that this culture of litigiousness and finger-pointing is so widespread. Let’s hope the case is dismissed before it wastes any more of everyone’s time.

  • Lantz

    first for mike: that is all well and good but, I drank Mcdonalds coffee years before this and was actually rather glad it was very hot when I got it because my parents taught me that coffee is very hot when served or when made at home with the coffee pot, this coupled with a little common sense and the lady would have had no problem, I am willing to bet the part that did not make it into the article is how she was trying to hold it either in her hands or between her legs neither of which is a good idea with any drink let alone hot coffee.
    As for this lady, just one question, did your parents not teach you that walking in the street is a bad idea ? mine did. They also taught me that if by some chance I found that the direction I needed/wanted to go did not have a side walk then step out of the road and wait for the car to pass and then return to the road and move on. I am pretty sure that although google may have directed her down this route they did NOT say “stay in the road when confronted with a car approaching in complete opposition to common sense”
    Sadly as a wise man once said common sense is not all that common.

  • Warren

    When speaking in legal talk, the plaintiff used a free product that offered a service of “giving directions” to the client. If this service fails, and causes bodily injury, then the manufacurer of this said service should be held liable. (IE Toyota, McDonalds, Gun Manufacturer, etc).

    Which brings up a few questions …
    Case 1:
    (In the Toyota case)
    If Insurance companies offer ‘Full Coverage’ then (if your insured), you were completely aware of the chance of accidents and were fully aware of the dangers involved when entering the vehicle. So, are you silently agreeing to the liability involved in driving?

    Case in hand:
    If google knew that their software can give false directions, then they were aware that their may be dangers involved. If so, did they disregard the safety of this individual? Regardless of the fact that this was stupid, that this individual may be out for monetary damages, the individual signifies a very large pool of individual personalities. (There are billions of people on earth.) With that fact, it was inevitable that this incedent would eventually occur.

    ** Remember, she is only asking for $10000 in medical expenses from a multibillon dollar company. Some might say that if Google covers it (easily), then this would open the door for further litigation on this topic with many other pending cases. How many cases are really out there. Obviously, Google is hesitating to react on something so small, that maybe it’s a bigger problem then most may realize.

    I am not taking sides with the individual or Google, however these are the facts.

  • Elena

    Where does she get off thinking she can double-dip for medical expenses from Google? The driver’s insurance will cover her expenses, and if he wasn’t insured, she should sue *him*, not Google. Google wasn’t driving!
    Not to mention the fact that if you are walking on the road, you should be walking in the opposite direction as the traffic on the side you are on so that you can see what’s coming at you!
    Any kind of map is a *guide*, not something that is full of incontrovertible facts. Use at your own risk! Does this mean if you are using a RandMcNally map and take a wrong turn and spend an extra ten dollars in gas or get in a wreck you can sue them for your expenses? Please!

    Nobody takes responsibility for their own actions anymore.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »