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Livestreaming and How it Can Play a Role in a Car Accident Case in California

Modern technology gives us options that would have seemed unthinkable fifty, forty, or even thirty years ago. That device in the palm of your hand can give you the opportunity to have a full-on, face-to-face audio and video interaction in real time. While this can bring loved ones closer together, it also has the potential to open a live window to others’ tragedy or terror when things go wrong. As with any evolution in society and technology, there are ripple effects within the law, and that may include using a loved one’s livestream as part of your vehicle accident case. Rely on an experienced San Mateo car accident lawyer to help you best utilize all the evidence available to strengthen your case.

Not every case important to auto accident plaintiffs is itself a vehicle injury case. A sad case from Southern California is an example. One spring day, D.K., the mother of a toddler son for whom she had hired a healthcare services company to provide in-home care, opened a phone app and pulled up a livestream of the “nanny cam” installed in her son’s room.

The mother “watched and heard in shock and horror, while the incident was happening in real time,” as the nurse employed by the healthcare company allegedly hit, slapped, pinched, violently shook, and generally abused the two-year-old. The abuse allegedly caused doctors to have to remove one of the boy’s eyes, and also inflicted other serious injuries.


When the parents sued the company, one of the claims that they alleged as a basis for compensation was something called “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” This is a cause of action for the mental anguish, suffering, anxiety, grief, shock, anger, and other negative emotions you experience as a result of someone else’s acts of negligence.

Watching on a livestream amounted to being ‘present at the scene’

In this type of lawsuit, you typically have to prove that you were there at the site of the accident and were aware of the injury as it was happening. What made this case so important was that the court took the important step of declaring that a close relative potentially can prove she was “present at the scene” for purposes of a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim simply by establishing that she viewed the events in real time while watching a livestream.

So, you may wonder, what does this case have to with my vehicle accident?

For that, we need to look no further than recent news stories. Multiple sources have covered several incidents in which a social media user livestreamed her death or the death of her passenger. The U.K. Daily Mail covered an incident in the Czech Republic where a young woman inadvertently livestreamed her own death when her friend behind the wheel crashed after driving at a high rate of speed.

Here in California, there was the 2017 case of a Merced County teen who, while allegedly driving drunk and livestreaming on Instagram, crashed her car, killing her 14-year-old sister.

In 2016, People reported on a Pennsylvania teen driver who was streaming on Facebook Live when a tractor-trailer rear-ended her car, killing her and her passenger.

So, if a California parent was on live with their daughter when the daughter was killed in a vehicle crash like the one that ended the Pennsylvania teen’s life then that parent might have a viable negligent infliction of emotional distress claim against the driver who caused the crash, and also perhaps the trucking company that employed him/her.

Livestreaming is more common than ever before, including streams that depict people inside moving vehicles. With that in mind, it is important to recognize the legal options that may exist in California if you are on live with a loved one who is seriously hurt or killed in a car crash while that stream is ongoing. Whether your case involves modern technology or just long-established rules of negligence, you need a knowledgeable advocate on your side. The experienced auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos have been helping auto accident victims and their families for many years and we’re ready to get to work for you. To set up a free consultation with one of our helpful attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

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