Uber Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian; Who’s Liable?

April 18, 2018 | By DJC Law Attorneys
Uber Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian; Who’s Liable?

Many years ago, we imagined the day when cars would drive themselves. That day is now here, but as it goes with all forms of technology, there have been some hiccups along the way, and in some cases, catastrophes. One major hiccup happened on March 25, when a self-driving car from Uber struck a pedestrian who was walking her bicycle, killing her.

The puzzling part is that even though the vehicle was in autonomous mode, an Uber employee was at the wheel when the accident happened. So why did neither the car nor the driver stop? And who would be liable in such a crash?

While these advances in automotive technology are exciting for some, others are nervous, especially when accidents like these are occurring. This was the first fatal pedestrian accident caused by a self-driving vehicle. Could there be more in the future?

It’s possible. State legislators are embracing this technology and creating laws that will apply to these vehicles. Currently, 21 states have approved legislation to test autonomous vehicles, including Texas. Eleven more states have issued executive orders related to these vehicles. The thought is that approving these vehicles for use brings in tax revenues while making states appear to be friendly.

But at what price? Shouldn’t the laws be stricter to ensure that this type of accident doesn’t happen again?

Liability Issues

Crashes involving autonomous vehicles have happened in the past. So who is responsible for such an accident? The car, the driver, the manufacturer or someone else?

When a Chevy self-driving vehicle changed lanes and hit a motorcycle in December 2017, the injured motorcyclist sued General Motors. This was the first ever lawsuit involving a self-driving vehicle, so there has been no precedent as of yet.

To clarify, many self-driving vehicles are not fully autonomous yet, so in many cases, there is still a human factor involved.

Transportation experts believe that the human drivers who are testing these autonomous vehicles should share the blame. After all, if there is a human operator, shouldn’t he or she be looking out for  hazards and trying to avoid them? There should not be so much reliance on these self-driving vehicles, especially when they are still in the testing phase.

Let’s not forget that determining fault in vehicle accidents that involve human drivers can be challenging enough. As more victims sue auto makers for accidents involving autonomous driving cars, there will likely be differences in opinion from judges and juries. Each state also needs to nail down specific laws pertaining to these vehicles.

Let an Austin Personal Injury Lawyer Help You Today

Self-driving vehicles are becoming more commonplace, but federal and local laws are still developing. Without human drivers controlling them, determining liability can be tricky. If you or a loved one has been injured by an autonomous vehicle, the Austin accident attorneys at DJC Law can help you obtain compensation for your injuries. Schedule your free consultation today. Call our office at (512) 220-1800.