Uber has become one of the most successful rideshare company’s individuals rely on today to get them where they need to go. Uber currently has nearly 40 million monthly riders and has contributed to making the roadways safer by providing an alternative way for intoxicated individuals to get around. [Source: Forbes]. Like any business, Uber has been working to keep up with its competition which has led the company to begin testing out self-driving vehicles. Unfortunately, a fatal accident recently occurred in Tempe, Arizona involving one of these self-driving automobiles that left one woman dead. Now, experts are trying to determine if anyone should be held accountable for this accident seeing that the driver technically wasn’t “operating” the vehicle but may have been able to switch the vehicle out of self-drive mode to prevent the accident from occurring.
Here’s what the news sources are saying.
According to ABC 15, the tragic accident that was caught on the dashboard camera of the vehicle itself occurred this past Sunday around 10: 00 p.m. The Uber vehicle was in “self-drive” mode as mentioned, although there was an operator behind the wheel when it hit a woman who was walking her bike across the street near Mill Avenue and Curry Road. In the video, we can see the Uber driving glancing down at their cellphone and then looking up in shock after the vehicle slammed into 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. The footage that ABC 15 provided displayed the accident as it occurred, and it was rather difficult to watch.
The driver of the vehicle has been identified as 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez. After investigators dug a little deeper into this Uber driver’s past, they found that Vasquez has spent some time in prison for attempted armed robbery and lying to obtain employment benefits. Although Uber confirmed that the company did the necessary background checks on the woman prior to employing her, Vasquez’s record likely didn’t show up as it has been nearly two decades since the offenses were committed. Had Vasquez been charged with a major crime within the past seven years, she wouldn’t have been permitted to drive as this is against Arizona law.
The news source also reported that police have not yet charged Vasquez for the deadly accident nor have they stated who was at fault. They did, however, mention that Herzberg was not in the crosswalk at the time of the crash. As a result of the unfortunate accident, the National Transportation and Safety Board is stepping in to investigate the incident and Uber has suspended their testing on self-driving vehicles in Arizona and other cities as well [Source: ABC 15].
An attorney who teaches the state bar course on driverless vehicles spoke out on the incident and said that this case could be a challenging one that could cost millions of dollars just to bring it to the courtroom. He mentioned that Uber may elect to settle.
Are Uber drivers and passengers eligible to collect compensation when they have been involved in an accident?
Although it hasn’t been reported whether the surviving family of Herzberg is going to take legal action, it is important to acknowledge that they might have a viable case on their hands. In fact, anyone who may have been involved in an accident with an Uber vehicle may be entitled to collect compensation for the damage done. But, because these cases are often difficult to get through, it is in the best interest of the victim to speak with a Tempe accident attorney immediately. Not only do AZ car accident lawyers understand the laws and how they can be used to your advantage, but they can help you determine if compensation should be awarded in your favor.
If you were recently injured in an accident and would like help with locating a nearby accident attorney in Tempe, AZ, now, contact USAttorneys.com today.