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Autonomous Uber Car Accident Raises Legal Issues.

March 29, 2018

On March 19, 2018, an autonomous Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in a late-night accident in Tempe, Arizona. The accident is believed to be the first pedestrian fatality involving the burgeoning technology of autonomous vehicles. Police said that the pe destrian was walking a bicycle across the street outside the crosswalk when she was struck by the autonomous uber vehicle. Cameras on the uber vehicle captured video footage of the accident from both inside and outside the vehicle, which will help in further investigation of the accident. Our New York personal injury lawyers have handled countless cases involving pedestrians struck by vehicles. Usually the law analyzes these cases under negligence law, which considers whether the driver failed to exercise reasonable care in driving the vehicle, but with driverless cars, there is a wrinkle which the law did not anticipate, mainly a machine cannot exercise judgment. So the law must create new rules for a situation where machines are doing the driving.

Autonomous cars have been hailed by technology companies as the wave of the future. Autonomous cars are already being tested in more than 30 cities around the world, with companies plowing more than $80 billion into research and development. Autonomous cars work by using complex radar systems to observe the road, objects and other cars. The data is then fed into a computer that decides what the car should do next. Proponents of the technology have claimed that self-driving cars will make transportation safer.

So what happens if a pedestrian or the driver or passenger of another car is injured or killed in a car crash with an uber and to top it if it is autonomous uber car? Before we understand the liability issue of the autonomous uber, it is important to understand Uber’s classification of its drivers. If the drivers are actually employees, then Uber is responsible for what they do while they are on the job. However, uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors, or third party service providers. In other words, they are not Uber’s employees. Some employment law specialist may object to that classification, but it also has an impact on Uber’s liability for its employees’ actions. In general, a company is liable for the actions of its employees while they are working. A company is not liable, on the other hand, for the actions of third-party contractors.

The sudden arrival of driverless technology ready for public use has regulators and attorneys still waiting for answers to some important questions, including how liability would be handled in the case of an accident. Our New York car accident lawyers will continue to litigate and fight for the rights of pedestrians who are hit by cars, whether they are driven by people or machines.

 
The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph