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Lawsuit accuses Apple of holding back safety feature

Many New Jersey residents use Apple products every day, and the company's popular iPhone dominates a highly competitive smartphone sector with an impressive 40 percent market share. However, that success could cost Apple dearly in the courtroom. A group of California residents are suing the iPhone maker over an unreleased safety feature that they say could have prevented thousands of distracted driving accidents.

The plaintiffs behind the class-action litigation were harmed in distracted driving crashes, and they want to know why Apple failed to release a safety feature that it developed in 2008 and patented in 2014. The lawsuit calls for the feature, which prevents drivers from reading or writing text messages, to be made available to all iPhone owners in California and included with all new Apple phones sold in the state. Similar litigation has been filed against Apple by the parents of a 5-year-old child who lost her life in a crash caused by a distracted driver.

Arguments in the case will likely center on the foreseeable consequences of holding the safety feature back. The plaintiffs will likely point to the commercial success of the iPhone and a growing body of research into the dangers of texting while behind the wheel. NHTSA says that texting drivers are six times as dangerous as motorists who have been drinking, and a U.S. Department of Transportation study of daylight driving habits suggests that 1.5 million American motorists are distracted by their cellphones at any given moment.

While car accident lawsuits are generally filed against reckless drivers, experienced personal injury attorneys may sometimes sue auto makers or electronics manufacturers when their products have contributed to the injuries suffered by their clients. Auto insurance companies may focus purely on the case in front of them and negotiate doggedly, but large corporations worried about a torrent of similar litigation could be more willing to settle matters quickly and privately.

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