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Autonomous vehicle lawsuits

 

Autonomous vehicles self driving cars driverless cars lawsuits, sue, Florida lawyer attorney 

 

The future is here.  Almost.  I have a Tesla model S and took it for a test drive in Florida with the autonomous feature.  It is great on the freeway and for bumper-to-bumper traffic.   In the video on this page, I show you how Tesla’s self driving features work.   

 

On the freeway, I-95, I used it with cruise control.  Once you set cruise control with the autonomous feature, there are cameras all over the car that detect the other vehicles around you.  The car automatically slows down when it senses another car directly in front of you.  When the car moves out of the lane, the Tesla speeds back up to the previously set cruise control speed.  You still have to put your hand on the steering wheel periodically.  If you don’t, there is a white light that flashes.  After a certain amount of time, if you don’t put your hand on the wheel, the car will disable autonomous mode.   

My daughter asked “Can you just tell it where to go and it will take you there?”  Not yet, but that is coming soon.   

 

Uber, Lyft, Google, Waymo

Uber is getting in on the action as well.  My understanding is they are testing self-driving cars in the Los Angeles area.   

Google has tested driverless cars with great success.  Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, Audi, and Lexus are all integrating the technology in their cars.   

 

Concerns 

One potential concern is software malfunction.   Potential defendants include the car manufacturer and the software company (maker, installer, updates).   

Some of these claims may be made via class action lawsuits. 

After the software glitches are fixed, motor vehicle accidents will largely be a thing of the past.    

There may also be lawsuits filed for data misuse.  Everything you do, everywhere you go, will be recorded.  That data is valuable to advertisers.  There will a strong incentive for a manufacturer and/or software company to sell that data.    

After watching Elon Musk on Joe Rogan’s podcast, I was sold on Tesla.  Automated cars are good for the environment and will increase vehicle safety.    

Waymo (the company behind Google’s driverless car project) now offers limited self-driving car service in the suburbs of Phoenix.  There is still a driver behind the wheel just in case.   

In March 2018, a self-driving Uber Volvo XC90 operating in autonomous mode struck and killed a woman named Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona.  

How will self-driving cars change our lives?  It will, in the long run, be safer and cheaper to travel.  Many people will not own a car.  They will use Uber, Lyft, or some other commercial company.  If that is the case, there will be no car payments, no maintenance and no insurance (commercial carriers will have insurance).   Your groceries will be delivered to your house by an autonomous vehicle.  

 

Legal theories to recover money damages for autonomous vehicles include: 

Negligence 

Negligent hiring and training

Backup drivers should be properly vetted.  Their driving record should be clean.  They should be thoroughly tested and trained before being hired.     

Negligent retention 

If the backup driver has a checkered history and the company still has them on the road, there may be a claim for negligent retention.  If a backup driver has multiple infractions for bad driving, that bolsters the negligent retention claim.   

Negligent supervision 

Negligent training 

The backup drivers need to be trained properly.  

Software maker negligence 

Strict liability 

Breach of contract 

 

Tesla claims that all Tesla vehicles have “full self driving hardware on all cars.”  In Florida, there is a pending lawsuit against Tesla where a man was involved in a serious crash while the car was on autopilot.   

He claims he was misled into believing a Tesla could function autonomously.  He bought the car, in part, based on that assertion.  The full self-driving feature would allow him to relax, check emails, etc.    

Breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose 

Misrepresentation 

Misleading advertising 

Florida deceptive and unfair trade practices act 

Trade secrets 

Waymo (google) accused former engineer of stealing its AV technology.  He went to work for Uber.  The lawsuit was settled for a cool $245 million and was done within one week.  Companies are very private about their AV technology. There will be more lawsuits re: trade secrets for self-driving vehicles in the future.   

Elaine Herzberg was killed by an AV autonomous vehicle (Uber owned) in Tempe, Arizona.  She was crossing the street.  The driver in the Uber vehicle was on her phone at the time.   Further investigation revealed the car detected Elaine and had 6 seconds to respond, but failed to respond.  Uber’s autonomous vehicles have since been kicked out of Arizona.  The AZ governor revoked their license to test AV.  However, Uber was granted permission by Pennsylvania to reinstate tests of its autonomous vehicles. 

The technology is simply not ready yet to be implemented on a mass scale.  It may be several years or more until that happens.  In the meantime, there will be more lawsuits filed against autonomous vehicle manufacturers and software makers.   

There is very little government oversight for self-driving cars AV autonomous vehicles.   

The AV start act is a bunch of hot air. 

Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (11/28/2017) 

American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act or the AV START Act 

This bill: (1) establishes a framework for a federal role in ensuring the safety of highly automated vehicles (HAVs); (2) preempts states from adopting, maintaining, or enforcing any law, rule, or standard regulating an HAV or automated driving system (ADS) regarding certain safety evaluation report subject areas; (3) sets forth conditions under which HAVs may be introduced into interstate commerce for testing, evaluation, or demonstration; and (4) applies certain safety exemptions to HAVs. 

The Department of Transportation shall: (1) establish a technical committee on HAV and ADS safety, (2) establish a working group on ADS education efforts, and (3) research the traffic safety implications of HAVs. 

Each HAV or ADS manufacturer shall execute a written plan for identifying and reducing cybersecurity risks. 

HAV Data Access Advisory Committee Act 

The Department of Commerce shall establish the HAV Data Access Advisory Committee to provide a forum to discuss and make policy recommendations with respect to the information or data that vehicles collect, generate, record, or store in an electronic form that is retrieved from an HAV or ADS. 

Commerce shall: 

  • develop educational cybersecurity resources to assist consumers in minimizing potential motor vehicle cybersecurity risks;
  • initiate a study on impacts of HAVs on transportation infrastructure, mobility, the environment, and fuel consumption; 
  • study ways to encourage U.S. manufacturing of automated driving equipment; and
  • issue a final rule regarding a child safety system to alert motor vehicle operators to check rear designated seating positions after the engine is deactivated.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shall create a publicly accessible database containing information collected about individuals during motor vehicle operation and privacy policies and protections. 

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an autonomous vehicle, you should call a lawyer who handles self driving car lawsuits.

West Palm Beach, Florida attorney Grey Tesh handles autonomous vehicle self-driving car lawsuits in Florida.

561-686-6886

Law is not black or white, it’s Grey