In a heart-wrenching turn of events, a North Carolina family is seeking justice for the tragic death of Philip Paxson, a father who met his untimely demise on a dark and rainy night in 2022 while following GPS directions from Google Maps. The family has filed a lawsuit against the tech giant, alleging negligence and accusing the company of contributing to the accident by failing to update its maps.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Wake County Superior Court, also implicates two local businesses and an individual who owned, controlled, or were responsible for the bridge, which the plaintiffs claim did not have critical safety features like barricades and warning signs.
The family of a North Carolina man who died after driving his car off a collapsed bridge while following Google Maps directions is suing the technology giant for negligence, claiming it had been informed of the collapse but failed to update its navigation system.
Philip Paxson, a medical device salesman and father of two, drowned Sept. 30, 2022, after his Jeep Gladiator plunged into Snow Creek in Hickory, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court. Paxson was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday party through an unfamiliar neighborhood when Google Maps allegedly directed him to cross a bridge that had collapsed nine years prior and was never repaired.
“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 so little regard for human life,” his wife, Alicia Paxson, said.
“This is horrific, what our family is going through,” she told reporters.
The suit claims that Google had been notified multiple times by residents in the area about the dangerous route it recommended to drivers. Several individuals had used the “suggest an edit” feature on Maps. A Hickory resident reported the perilous route as early as September 2020. Yet, Google took no substantive actions to update the directions or warn drivers about the bridge.
“This was a crater literally in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” Robert Zimmerman, a lawyer for Mrs. Paxson, said. “It’d be one thing if it was there for a day or a week, but it was there for nine years.”
Nearly a year after Mr. Paxson’s death, Mr. Zimmerman said, the bridge has not been repaired and that Google Maps is still directing drivers to cross it.
José Castañeda, a Google spokesperson, expressed sympathy for the Paxson family and explained that the company is reviewing the lawsuit.
This legal action highlights serious questions about the liability of GPS developers when erroneous directions result in fatalities or other types of harm. It underscores the necessity of updating these maps in a timely manner to avoid potential tragedies.
This unfortunate incident provides a somber reminder of the potential consequences that could arise as a result of negligence on the part of tech companies who are trusted to provide accurate information—especially as it relates to driving directions. The outcome of this legal action could set a precedent for holding these companies accountable when their services lead to serious accidents.