Uber Suspends, Then Restarts, Driverless Vehicle Program After Arizona Crash

uberUber’s self-driving vehicle service took a bit of a detour in March, when the company temporarily shut down the service in Phoenix and Pittsburgh after a self-driving Uber vehicle was involved in a crash in the Phoenix area. After the accident was determined to be the fault of the other driver, Uber quickly resumed the service, Reuters reported.

The crash occurred on Friday, March 24. The Uber test SUV, which had a driver behind the wheel and an engineer in the passenger seat, was attempting to make a left turn when a human-driven vehicle struck it. A police spokesperson told Reuters that the wreck was the fault of the human-driven car, which improperly failed to yield. The collision knocked the Uber vehicle onto its side, at which point it was struck by a third vehicle. No one was seriously injured in the crash.

After the accident occurred, the service suspended all self-driving cars in both Phoenix and Pittsburgh. Once Uber completed its own investigation and determined that its vehicle was not to blame for the accident, the self-driving vehicles resumed hitting the roads on the following Monday.

While the crash in this instance was not the fault of the Uber vehicle, some accidents involving self-driving cars have played out differently. Last year, Wired.com reported on a Google self-driving car that was at fault in an accident in Mountain View, California. That car changed lanes to avoid a hazard in its lane. In doing so, it pulled into the path of an oncoming bus. The vehicles collided, but no one was seriously injured.

Obviously, since the Uber SUV in the recent Arizona crash was entirely not at fault, there is no issue of liability in that case. But what about cases like the Google incident in California? Or, alternatively, what about cases in which there are multiple parties whose driving was negligent?

In either of the latter two situations, there may be liability that implicates the self-driving vehicle. Once there is proof that a self-driving vehicle was potentially at fault in an accident, the next question that may arise is “Whom should I sue for the damages I’ve incurred?” There are multiple possible answers. It is possible that the operator of the self-driving vehicle may be liable. Cars and trucks today come equipped with many varieties of technological assistance. If the driver uses any of those things (such as, for example, cruise control) in a way that constitutes operating the vehicle in a manner inconsistent with the required standard of care, the driver may be negligent and therefore liable.

In some cases, though, liability may go further. Self-driving vehicles operates based upon algorithms programmed by engineers. If a flaw in a vehicle’s algorithms causes it to drive unsafely, violate the appropriate standard of care, and cause a crash, the liability for those damages could extend to those responsible for the algorithms. The first type of cases would generally go forward as auto accident personal injury cases, while the second group might also include legal claims involving product liability.

In the future, there may be a significant subset of vehicle accident litigation cases that involve driverless vehicles. Whether you were injured by a driverless vehicle or one with an all-too-human driver, you need knowledgeable injury counsel on your side. The hardworking Chicago car accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been helping injured people for many years. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Woman Hit By Champaign City Bus Obtains $9M Injury Verdict Award, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Jan. 12, 2017

What Happens When You’re Injured by a Lyft or Uber Driver in Illinois?, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Jan. 12, 2017