Incomplete Walking Directions: Is Google really responsible?

This post was authored by Caitlynn Gillyard and posted to The Eye Opener on June 16th, 2010.

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In Park City, Utah, a woman has filed suit against Google for providing incomplete walking directions. The California native, Laura Rosenberg, had been attempting to navigate from Daly Street to Prospector Street, which Google Maps indicated was approximately a half an hour walk. Ms. Rosenberg did not expect her half hour walk to turn into a hospital admission.  

Directions provided to Ms. Rosenberg, via Google Maps for Blackberry, directed her to walk along Deer Valley Drive, also known as Utah State Route 224. She says she was not warned that by taking this path, she would have no sidewalks to navigate her way safely.

Ms. Rosenberg is suing Google for both medical expenses and punitive damages. Ms. Rosenberg is also filing suit against Patrick Hardwood, the driver of the vehicle that hit her. Her claim against Google states:

Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle, causing her to suffer severe permanent physical, emotional and mental injuries, including pain and suffering…

Google Maps is utilized by people world wide; the website clearly states:

Walking directions are in beta.
Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.

Although the disclaimer appears on the website, it hadn’t yet made it to the mobile world. Viewing directions via her Blackberry, Ms. Rosenberg claims she was led onto a highway with no warning shown on her Blackberry that her safety might be in danger.

It is expected to be argued that the disclaimer should appear on mobile applications because many users may be on foot and without access to a computer. However, some might well argue whether you really need your Blackberry to warn you that you are walking near or across a highway.

We’ll wait for the verdict on this one – if it gets that far!

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