On March 19, 2018, a self-driving Volvo operated by Uber — the ride sharing company — hit and killed a 49-year old woman in Tempe, Arizona. See USA Today report here. This is the second person killed by a driverless car. The car was driving at 40 miles an hour when the woman stepped off the curb into the street outside of a marked crosswalk. The Uber Volvo test car did not brake, swerve or try and stop or honk its horn. The car was in self-driving mode when it ran down the Tempe woman. The Uber safety “driver” — a person who is supposed to step in and take control if there’s a danger — did not retake control of the car soon enough to prevent the fatality. The safety “driver” was found, by Tempe police, to be not impaired.
The tragic story provides some lessons for automobile accidents here in Acworth. If you or a family member are injured in an auto accident in Acworth, you are entitled to seek money damages to fully compensate your or your family member for any and all injuries. Dedicated and proven Acworth auto accident attorneys can help and are essential when the legal issues are complex.
Acworth Auto Accidents Attorneys — Uber Will Be Liable
The first question that is often asked with respect to driverless cars is: who is at fault? In the case of the woman killed in Tempe, there are several possibilities. However, first and foremost, Uber will be deemed liable, if only as the owner of the vehicle. There are at least two theories of legal liability: negligence and product liability.
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Negligence In Acworth
In Acworth, a victim of an auto accident in entitled to sue for money damages if the driver/owner of the other car was negligent. To prove negligence in Acworth, there must be evidence of duty, breach, causation and injury. In general, drivers owe a duty to care to make sure that they are keeping a careful watch and driving in a manner that will not cause injury to others using the roads. That duty of care includes the duty to watch for pedestrians that might be crossing in the middle of the block, the duty to use the horn to warn a pedestrian and the duty to swerve, brake or “exercise proper precaution.” See Georgia statute O.C.G.A., § 40-6-93.
Aside from drivers, owners of vehicles also owe duties under Georgia law. For example, owners have a duty to keep their vehicles in proper and safe repair and to be careful to whom they lend their cars and can be held liable under various theories including negligent entrustment. See Zaldivar v. Prickett, 774 SE 2d 688 (Ga. Supreme Court 2015).
Under Georgia law, even though the Uber vehicle is called “driverless,” very likely Uber would be considered the “driver.” Unquestionably, Uber controls the electronics, hardware, and software programming that drives the vehicle. Moreover, Uber is constantly monitoring the vehicle and has an employee sitting in the car to take control if there is a dangerous situation. Uber is also the owner of the vehicle. Unquestionably, Uber would have potential liability under Georgia laws if the fatality had occurred in Acworth.
In addition to liability for negligence under traffic laws, Uber is probably liable under theories of product liability. In general, product manufacturers and sellers in Georgia cannot place into commerce dangerous or defective products. If they do so, they are liable to the victims who are injured. Manufacturers and sellers can be held at fault under Georgia’s law of negligence and under product liability law. Negligence might be shown by faulty design, insufficient testing prior to sale, failure to inspect, failure to train, failure to give warning or provide sufficient labeling and similar. Product liability fault might be based on an inherently dangerous product, defect in manufacture or something similar.
Whether under theories of negligence or product liability, Uber is facing some serious potential legal liability for the death in Tempe.
Acworth Auto Accidents Attorneys — Georgia Pedestrians Must Yield The Right Of Way
That being said, under Georgia law, the woman who was killed in Tempe might have some fault and responsibility for her own fatality. If so, then any judgment against Uber might be reduced or barred entirely had the fatality occurred here in Acworth.
Under Georgia auto accident law, if you are crossing mid-street in Acworth, you — the pedestrian — must yield the right of way to the vehicles and cars. Further, Acworth pedestrians are forbidden to cross in the middle of a street between two intersections with traffic controls. See Georgia statute O.C.G.A., § 40-6-92. Of particular relevance are subsections (a) and (c) which state:
“(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway unless he has already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway. …
(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.”
Thus, with respect to the woman killed in Tempe, according to the reports, had this happened in Acworth, the woman might have been violating Georgia Motor Vehicle and Traffic Code, § 40-6-92(c). However, even though a pedestrian is crossing in mid-block, that does not allow a careless driver to just run the pedestrian down. The driver must STILL exercise DUE CARE. Under these types of circumstances, Georgia comparative fault rules will come into play.
For Acworth auto accidents, Georgia law requires that fault be apportioned if there is more than one person at fault. Acworth auto accidents are governed by what is called the “modified comparative-fault doctrine” which apportions fault to each person, but bars recovery by the victim if the victim is determined by the jury to be 50 percent or more at fault. This is provided by Georgia Statute O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33. Subsection (a) provides that any judgment rendered to the victim’s shall be reduced by the judge by the percentage fault assigned to the victim by the jury. Subsection (b) provides that, if more than one wrongdoer is found at fault, then the judgment shall be apportioned among the wrongdoers. And Subsection (g), provide that “…the plaintiff shall not be entitled to recover any damages if the plaintiff is 50 percent or more responsible for the injury or damages claimed.”
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Acworth Car Accidents: Contact the Roger Ghai Law Offices
As can be seen, the are complex legal issues with respect to accidents involving driverless cars. Likewise, pedestrian accidents require skilled and experienced legal counsel to ensure that the victim receives the full amount of compensation to which he or she is entitled. If you have suffered — or someone you love has suffered — an injury due to a careless driver in Acworth or Cobb County, contact the skilled auto accident attorneys at the Roger Ghai Law Offices Our attorneys have years of experience in representing people just like you who need to receive compensation for their injuries and lost wages following an Acworth auto accident. Click here to schedule a consultation.