Self-Driving Uber Hits, Kills Pedestrian

A woman in Tempe, Arizona was killed Sunday when she was struck by a self-driving car operated by Uber in what appears to be the first pedestrian death related to an autonomous vehicle on a public road.

About the Fatal Automated Uber Vehicle Accident

According to the FOX News, the fatal pedestrian accident occurred around 10 pm as the woman, identified as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was walking outside of a crosswalk in Tempe. Herzberg was rushed to a nearby hospital where she later died.

In a news conference, Sgt. Ronal Elcock of the Tempe Police told reporters the self-driving Uber was traveling at a speed of 40 mph and was in autonomous mode when the accident occurred.

The person behind the wheel of the autonomous vehicle, 44-year-old Rafael Vasquez, is cooperating with investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to investigate the crash, and Uber has suspended all testing of autonomous vehicles pending the results of that investigation.

Automated Vehicles a Point of Controversy for Consumers and Lawmakers

The realization of self-driving vehicles has brought with it controversy and uncertainty.

A poll cited by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao shows that 78-percent of people fear riding in autonomous vehicles. Similarly, in 2017 alone, 33 states introduced legislation concerning autonomous vehicles.

California, for example, requires manufacturers to report any incidents observed during the testing phase of such vehicles. As of this month, the California motor vehicle department has received 59 reports.

Does Uber Insure Their Vehicles?

Actual insurance policies will vary by ridesharing company; however, all drivers are required to have their own insurance in order to be eligible to work for a ridesharing company. Additionally, both Lyft and Uber carry up to $1 million of liability company insurance, but this coverage is only in effect when at certain times.

For example, Uber’s insurance policy has three levels:

  • Uber App is OFF: Only the driver’s personal insurance is in effect.
  • App is ON and Driver is “Available”: In addition to driver’s insurance, Uber’s contingent liability coverage can now be accessed. This includes up to $100,000 for injuries.
  • Driver is on Uber Trip: Company’s full commercial insurance coverage is in effect. This includes $1 million in third party liability and $1 million in uninsured and underinsured coverage.

What Do I Do If I Am Involved In An Uber Or Lyft Accident?

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving an Uber, Lyft, or other vehicle used in a ridesharing service, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our attorneys have the legal knowledge and resources to handle your claim aggressively and effectively. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends. Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Call us today for a free case review.

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