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Uber Facing Legal Issues After Self Driving Car Struck Pedestrian

February 3 2020

Uber has had its share of legal issues, but a recent article in the Washington Post highlights a recent problem with its self-driving cars. According to documents obtained from the National Transportation Safety Board (after considerable investigation), an Uber self-driving SUV failed to recognize a pedestrian outside the crosswalk – a jaywalker – and subsequently struck and killed her. This ignited further inquiries, and the rideshare behemoth shut down its testing of autonomous vehicles for a full nine months. If you’ve been injured in a rideshare accident, you need the professional legal counsel of an experienced New York personal injury attorney.

The Deadly Accident

The accident victim stepped into the street from somewhere other than the crosswalk, and the Uber vehicle in question failed to identify her and to safely brake accordingly. The woman was struck by the vehicle near a busy intersection and later died in the hospital. This accident is thought to be the first death caused by the testing of driverless vehicles. While there was a person in the driver's seat, the Uber's built-in automatic emergency brake had been blocked – according to the report. In other words, the accident was a preventable tragedy.

The Cause of the Accident

Ultimately, the accident seems to have been caused by the fact that the autonomous vehicle wasn’t programmed to detect pedestrians outside of crosswalks. As such, the autonomous SUV detected the woman 6 seconds prior to impact but didn’t even begin braking until a second before the fatal crash. Failing to account for jaywalkers – or pedestrians who behave outside of the rules – is considered nothing if not a brash oversight. Even the newest drivers are aware that they need to be on the lookout for the unexpected – it’s an important component of driving safely.

This avoidable tragedy has fueled the controversy related to those giant companies that many believe are pushing the deployment of driverless vehicles before the technology is there. Some critics cite the accident as an example of high-tech companies using our public roadways for testing with programming that eschews the realities of those roadways. The fact is that pedestrians sometimes do things that are unexpected, and motorists are responsible for responding as safely as possible to these situations. Uber may have let its race to a technological first and profits cloud its good judgment related to pedestrian safety.

Consult with an Experienced New York City Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Rideshare companies exploded onto the transportation scene with a bang, but they have faced recent pushback related to safety and liability. If you’ve been injured in a rideshare accident, the formidable personal injury lawyers at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman in New York City have extensive experience successfully defending the rights of clients just like you in similar circumstances. Our dedicated legal team is committed to helping you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled, so please don’t hesitate to contact us onlilne or call us at 212-285-3300 today.