Arizona Back-Up Uber Driver Was Watching TV On Her Phone At Time Of Fatal Crash

I wrote several months ago about the self-driving Uber accident that killed a pedestrian. It was unclear at the time whether the self-braking system had failed or whether the pedestrian who walked out onto the street gave the vehicle enough time to stop.

Many of those questions have now been answered in a 300 page accident report from the Tempe, Arizona police. Apparently the back-up driver was watching the television show “The Voice” on her phone when the car crash occurred. The report concludes that if the driver would have been paying attention to the road rather than her phone, she could have braked on time as she could have reacted 143 feet prior to striking the pedestrian.

The National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”), released a separate report last month, which said the autonomous driving system on Uber’s Volvo XC-90 SUV spotted the pedestrian about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled. Thus, the duty of stopping on time for pedestrians or other vehicles was left to the back-up driver.

The family of the deceased pedestrian has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the driver and Uber. In most states, Uber insures their driver’s vehicles up to 1 million dollars per accident. I’d imagine that the family of the deceased are seeking over 1 million and to collect over the policy limits they would need to allege in their complaint and prove that Uber was negligent in the training and supervision of their driver (i.e. the driver was not made sufficiently aware that the self-driving brake system would not stop in certain situations).  Maybe the drivers are overly reliant on the autonomous braking system, and that they should have been trained to be more vigilant even when the self-driving program is on. The family could also allege that Uber’s technology was faulty or that it should not have been disabled, especially at night. I will be following this case as it progresses.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago pedestrian accident or Chicago Uber accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Another Tesla Autopilot Crash Leads To More Legal Questions

The Associated Press is reporting another Tesla car crash, which was allegedly traveling about 60 miles per hour, when it rear-ended a fire truck stopped at a red light. The driver sustained a broken right ankle, told police that her car was in autopilot mode and failed to brake before the violent impact decimated its front end.

This is is the fourth Tesla involved in a traffic crash this year while cruising in autopilot.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into the matter. “Consistent with NHTSA’s oversight and authority over the safety of all motor vehicles and equipment, the agency has launched its special crash investigations team to gather information on the South Jordan, Utah, crash.” the agency said in statement Wednesday. “NHTSA will take appropriate action based on its review.”

For me, the most crucial aspect of this particular case is whether the vehicle owner will seek damages against Tesla for her injuries. Typically in a case like this, the party that rear-ended another vehicle would not be able to seek damages for her injuries as she was the one that was at-fault for the car accident. Our civil justice systems allows parties to seek reimbursement for economic and non-economic damages against at-fault parties. In this case, if the driver can prove that the Tesla software failed by not stopping on time, then she could seek damages under a product liability claim. Unfortunately, product liability cases are very expensive due to the high costs of experts in these types of cases. Regardless, I think the driver here would have a very strong case based on the facts that we know. There are no allegations that the fire truck she rear-ended doing anything wrong. It was merely sitting idle at a red light. The question is whether an attorney will want to take on the cost for this type of case for just a broken ankle.

Another interesting question will be whether the driver’s insurance carrier will seek a subrogation claim against Tesla for the cost of repair or replacing the damaged vehicle. The insurance company could easily ask for reimbursement for the repair or replacement of the vehicle if the evidence continues to show that their driver did nothing wrong. Again, the subrogation claim would most likely come under product liability. This could be the rare situation where a plaintiff personal injury attorney and auto insurance company team up together for the same common goal.

These are some of the very intriguing issues that continue to arise from car accidents stemming from self-driving cars.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Uber Self-Driving Vehicle Leads To Pedestrian Death

Multiple news outlets have reported that a self-driving Uber vehicle, struck and killed a female pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday night. Immediately following the news of this tragic traffic fatality, Uber  suspended all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The vehicle in question was a Volvo, which  was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it hit 49-year-old woman as she was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk, police said. The National Transportation Safety Board, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are both investigating the accident.

At this point, it’s unclear who was at fault for this traffic accident. I have a lot of questions though, as this is not the first car crash or traffic fatality involving self-driving cars. First, what in the world was the human, “back up” driver doing at the time of the accident? If the vehicle’s cameras didn’t pick up the pedestrian, then the back up human should have been paying attention and stepped on the brakes or swerved the vehicle herself. Otherwise, what is the point of having a back-up driver in the vehicle. Also, self-driving car proponents continue to tout the safety benefits of these vehicles (i.e. they don’t get drunk, fall asleep or read phones), yet we continue to see accidents. I will continue to follow this story to see how Uber and other companies react and whether the federal government intervenes at some point to implement their own regulations.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago pedestrian accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.