There has been so much talk in the media recently about artificial intelligence and how it’s going to affect our lives in the future. The most recent and hottest topic is Uber liability for self-driving car fatalities. If you were injured by an Uber or other rideshare drivers, call our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.
Uber liability for self-driving car fatalities
If you haven’t seen the video of the Uber self-driving car fatality that occurred in March, 2018 in Arizona, you can see it by clicking above. This video is not graphic and shows little.
In short, a woman was walking her bicycle outside the crosswalk at night when she was struck by an Uber self-driving car. There was an operator in the car at the time of the collision but she was looking down, I assume at her phone, at the time of the collision.
Is Uber liable for this accident?
In short, probably. There are likely two theories that the victim’s family can pursue. One is a design defect to the vehicle’s sensor system that was supposed to detect an object and thus avoid a collision. Obviously, it didn’t work.
Second, the family can pursue a claim for negligence. It could be argued that the Uber operator in the vehicle was negligent for failing to keep her eyes on the road. Of course, it’s a self-driving vehicle and as such, you might ask why it needs an operator at all?
As self-driving cars are in their infancy, operators need to be in the vehicles for just this very reason.
Does Uber have a defense?
Yes. The pedestrian clearly was at least partially at fault for the collision. She was outside of the crosswalk in pitch black conditions. As such, she likely has some comparative negligence. This should not significantly affect her family’s ability to recover, however.
I’ve read countless articles on this topic and watched the video repeatedly. The focus is almost unanimously on Uber liability for self-driving car fatalities.
For Uber, this is the cost of developing new technology. I assure you that Uber has calculated wrongful deaths from self-driving technology into their cost of doing business. They are prepared for this fatality and many more to come. As are all self-driving car companies. Tesla is dealing with this issue from a crash in Los Angeles where a Tesla rammed into the back of a stationary vehicle.
What’s getting lost in the Uber self-driving carcase is that a woman died and a family lost a mother, daughter, or wife, etc.
Uber’s CEO posted this tweet about the victim.
Feels sincere despite the tweets that followed which accused the company of solely being interested in profits over people. Not sure what else could be said.
The bottom line
As self-driving car technology continues to develop, we will see more accidents, injuries, and fatalities. That is guaranteed. However, this is similar to many other technologies that required massive amounts of testing to overcome their design flaws.
Technological advancements will continue and despite our best intentions, some unfortunate individuals will pay for it. All we can do is work to make the technology as safe as possible.
Part of that will be accomplished by personal injury and product liability lawyers who will pursue claims against this technology.
If you would like more information on Uber accidents or would like a consultation for injuries suffered in a rideshare accident, contact our office at 847-305-4105.