First autonomous car death lawsuit settled

It may be only a matter of time until autonomous vehicles, currently under development, are on Ohio's roads. Wrongful death cases involving last month's first fatal self-driving vehicle crash poses new legal questions for motorists and pedestrians across the country concerning this new technology.

On March 18, a 49-year-old woman was walking across a four-lane road outside a crosswalk in Tempe, Arizona when she was struck by a self-driving Uber SUV. It was traveling along a dark road when its headlights suddenly illuminated the victim in front of the vehicle, according to video footage from the SUV's dash-mounted camera. Other video footage revealed that the vehicle's human safety driver, who was sitting behind the wheel, was looking down and not at the road seconds before the collision.

This is apparently the first pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving vehicle. This accident could delay the testing and development of autonomous vehicles which were intended to perform better and safer than human drivers and lower the number of vehicle deaths each year.

On March 29, the victim's daughter and husband reached a settlement with Uber. The settlement terms were undisclosed.

However, this does not foreclose another cause of action over this fatal car crash. Another firm representing the victim's mother, father and son announced that it was hired to represent them, and that the settlement will not affect their case. The firm is in the early stages of its accident investigation.

This type of lawsuit is especially challenging. Self-driving vehicles are equipped with a complex hardware and software system that are often manufactured by outside suppliers.

Source: Reuters, "More family members of woman killed in Uber self-driving car crash hire lawyer," David Schwartz, March 30, 2018

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