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Distracted driving accident victims sue Apple over safety feature

The number of Kentucky residents killed or injured in distracted driving accidents has been on the rise, and a federal road safety agency has asked electronics manufacturers to develop smartphone features that would make their devices more difficult for drivers to use. A lawsuit filed by a group of California road users against Apple Inc. has revealed that such a feature already exists but that the company has not chosen to make it available to the public.

According to the lawsuit, Apple developed a feature that prevents drivers from using the iPhone's texting capabilities in 2008 and received a patent for the technology in 2014. The plaintiffs are asking Apple to make the texting lockout feature available to those who already own an iPhone and include it in its latest models. A similar lawsuit was filed against Apple by the parents of an infant girl who was killed in a distracted driving crash.

The arguments in both of these cases will likely center on whether or not Apple was negligent in not releasing the safety feature, but the statistics could make grim reading for the technology firm's attorneys. Apple dominates the U.S. smartphone sector with a 40 percent market share, and figures released by the National Safety Council point to texting while behind the wheel as being a factor in 26 percent of American motor vehicle accidents.

Lawsuits against large and respected companies may garner a lot of media attention when they are filed, but they are often settled quickly and quietly. Experienced personal injury attorneys may understand that the defendants in these cases have much at stake and would prefer not to take their chances in court, and they could seek a generous settlement offer at the outset.

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