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. According to a car accident lawyer, 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.

Tesla Driver Recreates Fatal Autopilot Accident

It was reported in multiple news outlets that an owner of Tesla Model X, crashed into a concrete barrier and died  last month in Mountain View, California. The vehicle was in autopilot at the time of the accident.  According to reports, the vehicle had the choice to veer right or left, did not break, and the autopilot sensors did not detect the concrete block, causing the fatal accident.

The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident. Tesla, release the following statement regarding this fatal car crash:

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”

Essentially, Tesla is attempting to put the blame back on the driver.

Another Tesla Model X owner recreated the accident himself and recorded the test on his phone. You can watch the video here.

I think it is fair for us to conclude that this is not a true “autopilot.” The driver still needs to be aware as what is going on and be on alert as to any warnings that may come. Further, I don’t believe Tesla’s software still has flaws as do other self-driving vehicles, or we wouldn’t continue to see these fatal traffic accidents.

The litigation that is coming our way with these car accidents is going to be very expensive. There is no doubt in my mind that this will all be very expensive litigation, in part, due to the expert testimony that will be required to try to prove that Tesla’s software systems are faulty . Second, there will be lawsuits and cross-claims between parties as none of the parties involved or their insurers are going to want to take responsibility for the fatalities.  This will be on top of the normal lawsuits against the individual driver, who most likely holds an individual auto policy. This is going to lead to a lot of finger pointing and litigation. I will be interested to see what the NTSB concludes, and will be following this closely.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash 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.

Uber Suspends Self-Driving Test Vehicles Following Phoenix Car Accident

The Associated Press reported last month about a self-driving Uber vehicle that flipped over on its’ side after a vehicle cut in front it. The self-driving Uber was a test vehicle carrying two test passengers. Luckily no one was hurt in the accident. Uber released a statement following this traffic accident that they were temporarily suspending their self-driving program at their three test locations (Phoenix, San Francisco and Pittsburgh), while they investigate the accident.

The question that remain, and most be answered by auto-makers and ride-share companies, is whether these self-driving vehicles are safe. More specifically, would that vehicle have tipped over if there was a human behind the wheel.

t isn’t the first safety issue involving the self-driving vehicles or with Uber in particular. California suspended the self-driving Uber program at the end of last year due a recurrence of the vehicles running red lights.  And last year a Tesla owner died in an car accident, when his vehicle misread a truck in front of it as an overhead traffic sign.

These are issues that make me and lawmakers dubious of self-driving vehicles. One issue that caught my interest from the AP article was that Arizona was only requiring Uber to carry to minimum insurance for its’ test self-driving vehicles, which is $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident. I don’t live in Arizona but I have friends and family who do, and I think it is unconscionable that the state would not require higher limits on self-driving Uber vehicles, when the dangers are so unknown. What if someone would have been seriously injured or had died in that recent accident.? The coverage from Uber’s insurance would not have been able to provide proper compensation to cover the  medical bills, lost wages and serious pain and suffering or loss enjoyment of life.

Many issues remain, and I think it is fair to say the roads are not ready to take on self-driving vehicles.

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

Self-Driving Tesla Involved in Fatal Traffic Accident


Self driving cars are the wave of the future. That is what you will hear from the people at Google and electric car manufacturer, Tesla. Manufacturers state that the technology is foolproof and completely safe. Unfortunately, this may not be true as of yet. News hit the wires over the weekend that a motorist whose Tesla vehicle was on autopilot while driving in Florida, was involved in a fatal car crash with semi tractor trailer.  According to news reports On May 7th at 3:40 p.m. on U.S. in Williston, Florida, 45-year-old Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S went under the trailer of an 18-wheel semi and the roof of his car was torn off by the impact.

According to Tesla’s press release, this is their assessment of what happened:

“Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also responded fatal traffic accident on twitter. He stated that the Tesla’s radar did not detect the truck because of its height, and thus the radar probably confused it with an overhead traffic sign.

This is obviously a sad and tragic event. But it also proves that self driving cars are not immune to car accidents, let alone traffic fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating the accident. How does this event affect the family and/or estate of the deceased driver? Well, if it is found that the truck was at fault for negligently pulling out in front of the deceased, then the truck driver could be held accountable in a normal negligence and wrongful death cause of action. The family could also sue Tesla under a product liability or auto defect count. Their attorneys could plead and argue (with expert testimony) that Tesla’s safety system was defectively designed and built because it could not properly detect the difference between a truck and an overhead highway traffic sign.

Regardless, I believe it is fair to say the self driving vehicles are not completely safe and there may need to be modifications as the technology moves forward.

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

Experts Warn Self-Driving Cars Are Not Safe

The Associated Press recently reported on a meeting hosted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) regarding self driving cars. Experts, including multiple engineers, spoke at the meeting and warned officials that self-driving vehicles still pose safety risks. The experts urged the NHTSA to issue regulations on self-driving vehicles as soon as possible as the technology is already been put out on the road unregulated.

James Niles, president of Orbit City Lab, a New York think tank, told the meeting that there is a complete absence of federal regulations and standards to prevent self-driving cars from being turned into weapons by “bad actors.”

“The concern that an autonomous vehicle could be used as a weapon has gone unnoticed by the general public and probably by the majority of government officials,” he said.

Some of the safety issues the experts believe self-driving vehicles cannot handle include:

—Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings.

—Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors.

—Self-driving cars can’t take directions from a policeman.

—Inconsistent traffic-control devices — horizontal versus lateral traffic lights, for example.

“It is dangerous, impractical and a major threat to the public health, safety and welfare to deploy them (self-driving vehicles),” said Mark Golden, executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

It will be interesting to see if and when the NHTSA will react to these concerns and issue regulations. It is clear self-driving cars are not safe to put on the road and they should be restricted until the proper software has been developed along with the much needed regulations.

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

Are Self-Driving Cars The Wave Of The Future?

The Uk-Telegraph reported
today about an interesting development by auto-makers such as General Motors
who have announced that self-driving cars could be on the market within the
next ten years. 
Boules, General Motors’ director of electrical and controls integrated
research, stated that most of the requirements for semi-autonomous driving are
already in place. Those features include Radar, Lidar and camera systems, which
provide modern safety features such as blind-spot recognition, lane-departure
warnings and collision mitigation, could go most of the way to equipping a car
that could drive itself on motorways. Boules stated, “
 If you combine these elements and take each of
them to an extreme, we could have a car that can’t crash and a car that can
drive itself.

to Boules, fully autonomous self-driving cars could be in the market within the
next 10 years as well. Boules mentioned that the benefits of fully
autonomous self-driving cars are in easing congestion, eliminating traffic
lights and conventional road junctions, as cars will guide themselves through
while avoiding traffic, and the reduction of weight as these “crash-proof”
vehicles will not need crash-safety structures.  

I want to know is whether this will it lead to less car accidents. Also, are
people willing to give up the thrill and enjoyment of driving even if it is
safer to let the computers take over.  I think the answer to this is probably not.
Further, GM and other auto makers need to consider the aesthetics of these
vehicles. I think people take more pride in the car they drive and the way it
looks versus the novelty a mini-machine that is run by computer chips. Regardless,
this is an interesting development to follow, especially any research involving
road safety and vehicle accidents

Another issue to consider is what would happen if something in the computer system fails, which causes a traumatic car crash that leads to serious injuries that is of no fault to the driver? Most likely, the auto-makers would be on the hook for the damages based on a product liability claim. Would the auto-makers try to point the finger at the driver in these situation? No doubt this could become an issue and a claim could be tied up in Court while the injured party is left waiting to be compensated for his or her injuries. 

you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicagotruck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant for a
free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at 
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