When smartphones first came out, most apps were designed to entertain or kill time. Games, productivity tools and flashlights were the main uses for early apps.

As smartphones became more ingrained in our lives, the apps became more useful. Now, we can order food, find a date or book a hotel room from the convenience of our phones. But what happens when an app puts you in danger?

Holding software developers accountable

A lawsuit featuring the dating app Grindr has created questions around an app’s responsibility towards its customers. How should developers handle people’s safety in an app? Can these companies be held liable if they do not ensure users’ safety?

The lawsuit stems from an issue a Grindr user had involving an ex. The suit alleges that Grindr allowed the man’s ex to sign up for the service using the man’s address and send strangers to his house. This posed a risk to the man’s safety and opened him up to potential injury.

Now the man is suing Grindr, alleging the app has a responsibility to protect its users.

The limits of liability

Product liability has almost exclusively targeted physical items. Faulty brakes are a liable product but not glitchy software. The purpose of liability is to hold manufacturers and companies accountable when they create and sell a harmful product.

Digital items, like video games or apps, haven’t traditionally been considered able to physically harm someone. This lawsuit against Grindr aims to change that. If the suit is successful, it could open up digital apps to liability issues and expand what qualifies under the burden of liability.

Protecting consumers from harm

Regardless of the outcome of the Grindr lawsuit, it’s important to hold companies accountable when they create a harmful product. Liability allows consumers to recoup injury costs and draw attention to harmful products.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a faulty product, a knowledgeable attorney can be an invaluable resource.