A series of legal questions have been brought up following a fatal accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle. This is according to Reuters. Since this is the first time such is happening the court is having a hard time knowing how to proceed. Although cases against App taxes have been addressed by lawmakers and the court, personal injury litigation involving these ride-sharing services is still in its infancy.
Uber Accidents and Liability Insurance Coverage
The Florida auto insurance law dictates that drivers must carry at least $10,000 Personal Injury Protection, in addition to $10,000 property damage liability. However, drivers of ride-sharing services not carrying any passenger are required to have a minimum of $50,000 insurance coverage for an incident involving death and bodily injury for each person and a minimum of $100,000 for an incident involving death and bodily injury for each incident.
When passengers are involved, ride-sharing drivers are required to carry automobile liability coverage of a minimum of $1 million in cases of death, property damage, or bodily harm. This coverage is meant to be available for victims who may be injured in accidents involving Uber drivers. It covers for both when the individual is in the Uber driver’s vehicle or in another vehicle that was involved in the accident. The difficult part is when there are no drivers involved.
Self-driving technology is here-Legal liability already at issue
This week in Arizona, a pedestrian was killed in an accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle. According to police reports, the Volvo XC90 SUV, traveling at 40 miles an hour in autonomous mode hit the 49-year old woman who had been walking her bicycle on a four-lane road in Tampa, outside the crosswalk. The vehicle was said to be operating with a safety driver on the wheel. The United States National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Safety Administration are currently carrying out an investigation into the incident.
Legal scholars and personal injury attorney in Florida monitoring the development are of the belief that this incident could cause a rift between ride-sharing services and the vehicle manufacturers and technology suppliers creating such technology. Only last year, Volvo went to an agreement with Uber to supply them 24,000 self-driving vehicles.
Typically, personal injury case depends on if the driver had acted negligently, but in the case of self-driving vehicles, the technology is regarded to be at fault, making the legal question that of defective design and product liability.
Legal watchers and personal injury attorney in Florida are also of the belief that this case could also bring about indemnity agreement between producers designing and releasing this technology. This agreement will state which bodies have agreed to take responsibility for liability cost.
It is the belief by experts that Uber would like to settle this case quickly to avoid bad press. But such option won’t be too viable as this technology is made available nationwide with millions of pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists interacting with cars, buses, and taxis operating with such autonomous technology.
As an investigation into this case proceeds, a good number of autonomous-vehicle manufacturers have suspended testing in several states.