Google Maps Blamed for Fatal Accident

The family of a North Carolina resident who met a tragic end after his car fell off a dilapidated bridge is seeking legal recourse against tech giant Google. The family claims that Google Maps, the company’s navigation application, directed the man to the hazardous path, despite numerous alerts about the bridge’s precarious state.

Philip Paxson, a 47-year-old medical device sales representative and a former U.S. Navy serviceman, was returning home from his daughter’s birthday celebration on the evening of September 30, 2022, when the fatal incident took place. The lawsuit alleges that Google Maps directed Paxson to a route that included a bridge that had been non-operational for almost ten years, having collapsed in 2013.

Paxson, who had moved to Hickory from Florida with his family in 2020, was navigating his Jeep Gladiator in the dark and rainy conditions when he adhered to the app’s instructions, leading him to what locals referred to as the “Bridge to Nowhere.” The vehicle plunged into Snow Creek, resulting in Paxson’s premature demise.

The legal action, initiated by Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky on behalf of Paxson’s wife, Alicia Paxson, also implicates two companies and an individual, James Tarlton, identified as the proprietors of the land where the bridge is situated. The lawsuit asserts that Google disregarded multiple alerts from Hickory inhabitants about the bridge’s perilous state.

The lawsuit further alleges that Google received several notifications about the bridge’s unsafe condition, including at least one message that included a news article highlighting the risk. Despite these alerts, the company is accused of failing to update its navigation system, leading to the tragic event.

State troopers who found Paxson’s body in his overturned and partially submerged vehicle reported that there were no barriers or warning signs along the eroded roadway. The lawsuit also implicates several private property management companies, alleging they are accountable for the bridge and the adjacent land.

The lawsuit includes email records from a Hickory resident who warned Google in September 2020 about the collapsed bridge. Google acknowledged receipt of the report and stated it was under review, but according to the lawsuit, no further action was taken. A spokesperson for Google, which has a registered office in Raleigh, has yet to comment on the lawsuit.