A Brave New World for Auto Accident Litigation? (Pt. 1 of 3)

There was a time not too long ago when auto accidents involved human drivers. Other than the occasional brake failure or other technological malfunction, most of these cases involved the comparative negligence of the two drivers to determine who was most at fault and the degree of compensation that should be awarded.

With the rise of the new fully-automated vehicles in recent years, what is considered the norm is rapidly changing in auto accident litigation. Having the car itself do the driving raises issues of liability, and since there is still someone in the car who is supposed to be ultimately responsible for the safety of the vehicle, there is some new ambiguity introduced in these cases. Over the next few blog posts, we’re going to explore the issues involved with auto accident litigation involving autonomous self-driving vehicles.

A Recent Tragic, Fatal Auto Accident Involving a Self-Driving Car

By now, most of you have already heard about the recent fatal accident involving an autonomous Uber car. The accident occurred in the middle of March. As reported by ABC15.com, a woman was killed Sunday night, March 18th, around 10 PM when she crossed the street and a self-driving Uber car struck her. The car showed no signs of slowing down.

Of particular interest is Uber’s reaction to the event. They immediately suspended self-driving car tests for their driving service in Arizona after the accident.

Further, and more importantly, the company settled with the victim’s family just last week. As reported by CNN, the amount of the settlement was not disclosed and the victim’s family has not commented on the events or the settlement.

A Very Quick Settlement

It’s the quickness of the settlement here that is most noteworthy.

Less than two weeks from the time of impact to a finalized settlement. I have been practicing law for a long time, and I have never seen this type of case resolved this quickly. It is almost unheard of to reach a settlement so fast.

The quickness of the settlement, especially considering the question of whether Uber was even at fault in this case, makes this a uniquely interesting case that deserves more attention.

In the next blog post, we will look more closely at the facts surrounding the actual accident and at questions of liability.

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