Uber Victim’s Daughter Retains A Lawyer For What Will Likely Become A Landmark Case

The fallout from the fatal accident involving one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles continues as the daughter of the victim has retain a lawyer in preparations for what will likely become a landmark case for autonomous vehicles.

In a statement, the law firm of Bellah Perez, PLLC confirmed the daughter of Elaine Herzberg has chosen the law firm to pursue legal action against the company. The firm didn’t discuss specifics of the case but Cristina Perez Hesano said Arizona has encouraged companies to test their autonomous vehicles in the state so the firm feels a “special responsibility to represent this case as it directly impacts our fellow Arizonans sharing the road with these machines.”

While the case has wider implications, the law firm says it is “fundamentally about a woman who lost her mother and wants to understand why.” The firm also acknowledged the accident has “sparked a national debate about the safety of self-driving cars, exposing the technology’s blind spots and raising questions of liability.”

The news comes hot on the heels of the release of accident footage which appears to contradict claims that Herzberg suddenly stepped in front of the Volvo XC90. As Reuters notes, the homeless woman has walking her bike across a divided four-lane road and managed to get to the far right lane before being hit. The footage also revealed the car’s safety driver took their eyes off the road a few seconds before the crash.

The failure of both the autonomous driving system and the safety driver is disappointing, to say the least, and it now appears these failures could cost the company significantly.

  • TrevP

    I guess we will see what happens next.

    • Status

      Out of court settlement.

      • Erzhik

        That would be a real shame, given that this should set a precedent for future cases. While it is tragic that this woman died, the verdict of this case is crucial for future.

  • klowik

    but the woman seemed to cross the road without even looking if there’s any car coming her way…and she did not use the section with pedestrian traffic lights..even if the car is a driver driven, she could end up getting hit..

    • Erzhik

      That’s not the point. Car is equipped with $100k worth of radars and tech. It is also equipped with LIDAR, which itself should’ve detected a human being in the road. That is the whole purpose of self driving cars, to detect an impeding impact and attempt to avoid. This car didn’t detect anything. What if in the future it’s a child in the road? A blind person? A large animal, big enough to pose risk to car occupants? The technology on the car didn’t work, therefore what is the point of this?

      • Shobin Drogan

        The point is for them to collect more data and to avoid things like this from happening in the future.

        • Enter Ranting

          Uber should not be collecting data for the beta version of this extremely complicated system on public roads.

          • Shobin Drogan

            Only public roads can replicate real world situations. There’s no way for them to create unexpected situations such as this in testing. Also don’t you think they would’ve already done controlled testing before letting these vehicles onto public roads? Anyway, the good news is that just like in airplanes, everytime a crash happens, it forces them to prevent more problems like this from happening in the future.

      • Marty

        Exactly. The single purpose of this technology is to avoid accidents like this.
        If she was invisible for the car even though she was walking across an empty broad road, the tech isn’t working.

      • Stephen G

        The whole purpose of a self driving car is so the owner doesn’t have to drive. And,I don’t know how old you are but if you haven’t learned this yet, here it is… The amount of money you spend on something does not guarantee its function or your satisfaction.

    • Stephen G

      Exactly. Watching the video it seemed like the woman was not in her right mind. She certainly wasn’t dressed properly to be riding her bike in the dark and clearly breaking traffic laws. Why was this woman in this situation anyway? How do we know it wasn’t suicide? Where was her family? This is clearly about money.

      • Enter Ranting

        Did you miss that the woman was homeless?

        • Stephen G

          No I did not.

  • Jason Miller

    Maybe it’s none of my business, but why was her mother homeless if her daughter cares enough about her to pursue legal action? I feel like this is the daughter seeing a prime opportunity pad her pockets.

    • klowik

      for sure her daughter will be millionaires!!

    • BlackPegasus

      “Homeless woman/man hit by car”

      Google that and ask why wasn’t those stories sensationalized like the Uber story.

    • Erzhik

      Some people leave their children and live their own and children can’t force their parents to live with them. Also, just because it’s a lawsuit, doesn’t mean the daughter is paying up front. Case this big, lawyers would be paid after the case if they win.

  • BlackPegasus

    The woman was jaywalking in the dark of night with no reflective clothing nor lights on the bicycle. This is the tragic result of the victim being negligent for her own death. This wouldn’t be anywhere near a “landmark “ case if the car was being driven by a texting teen, so lets stop sensationalizing this case because of technology.

    • Erzhik

      Yes, she was jaywalking. But, the operator wasn’t paying attention. And the whole purpose of a self driving car is to eliminate deadly accidents. The car that is equipped with $100k worth of self driving technology couldn’t detect a human being in the road. If it couldn’t do that, what is the point of all this tech? Do you really want to buy a car in 10 years with self driving tech and realize it’s not actually working? Let’s not forget that Uber was racing to put self-driving cars on the road by 2019. Car is equipped with LIDAR and IR radars. LIDAR alone should be able to detect objects ahead, it doesn’t matter if it’s dark or light. LIDAR works better in the dark too.

      • bxniels0

        “And the whole purpose of a self driving car is to eliminate deadly accidents.”
        I thought the whole point of a self driving car was for the car to be self driving.

        It will be great if they can mitigate accidents all together or at least reduce their severity, but I am not quite sure when the expectation started that they will be 100 percent accident free.

        I agree about the operator not paying attention, especially since the car is an experimental test mule.
        Do you think regular AEB would have slowed the car down? The woman seems to have cut across quite suddenly and the vehicle appears to be travelling quite fast. There is does not appear to be any reaction from the vehicle, as far as I can tell.

        • Status

          It doesn’t even have to be 100% accident free. It just has to be considerably and measurably better than a human driver.

          • tkindred

            So now we have to spend millions and millions more $$$ for that 1% chance of someone jaywalking in the middle of the night across a median right in front of a vehicle. And how faster do we expect the reaction time of the autonomous vehicle to be than a human’s?

          • Status

            Who’s ‘we’? None of this is taxpayer funded, by any automaker from any nation. The automakers and software companies are doing this themselves.

            As for the reaction speed, they’re already faster than you can respond, and can stay focused for far longer than you ever could, even on your best days of your youth when you were stone sober.

  • eb110americana

    There is so much fault to go around, I don’t even know where to begin.
    VICTIM:
    -Jaywalking. On a major highway-like multi-lane roadway.
    -At night. With no reflectors or lights whatsoever.
    -Did not look at traffic before or during crossing.
    -Had to have seen oncoming headlights and probably heard the SUV too
    -Did not yield for her own safety.

    VOLVO:
    -Why is the reach of the headlights only about 30 feet in front of the XC90? No human could be expected to stop in the time from when she became visible to when she was struck.

    DRIVER:
    -Why did you not at least swerve?
    -Was not paying attention
    -I know after months of testing, it’s hard to constantly be aware and waiting for a malfunction, but was this not your job?

    UBER:
    -Radar, lidar, cameras, infra-red, night vision, parking sensors–and somehow still did not “see” the pedestrian
    -Pedestrian was likely dismissed as noise by the algorithms. Why? How?
    -If something this large–an adult with a metal bicycle–can be missed by autonomous sensors, what will happen with children or pets? What about an emergency appearance of road flares, traffic cones, or perhaps a surprise metal object like a wheel or say, a propane tank that fell off a truck?

    Draw your own conclusions, but the situation is far from simple. No legal precedent will make it so.

    • BlackPegasus

      Just as they did with Bioethics, college universities are now teaching ethics in technology. Law Schools are also tackling the inevitable obstacles of fault and liability when technology is involved. I only fear that cases such as these could set a premature precedent that could foster in new laws written by ignorant law makers. These laws and court verdits will stifle the evolution of the technology.

    • MultiKdizzle

      Not to mention, UBER hired a felon to be their “safety-driver”.

    • tkindred

      Watching the video, I doubt the driver had enough time to react. It was split second. A driver’s reaction time is usually around 3 seconds?

      • eb110americana

        I agree that it’s highly unlikely she could have done anything to prevent the fatality, but that is only in this specific instance. The fact is that she was not paying attention, she was looking down at (probably) her phone. There could just have easily been a case where she had slightly more time, where she could have made the difference had she been paying attention. I will give her that this is hard to do every second that the car is driving–probably over 90% of us would do the same–but this was her job. Just because she got lucky (well, not as lucky as NOT killing someone) doesn’t mean that next time she won’t be liable for fault for not paying attention.

      • Jay

        The driver wasn’t even look at the road that long…

  • LWOAP

    I know I shouldn’t jump the gun but I have a feeling someone is trying to make money off of this.

    • tkindred

      Probably

  • SteersUright

    I think everyone can admit, we knew this day was coming the minute we all heard they were beginning to test autonomous cars on public roads. Now its time to see how this plays out…

  • LeStori

    This will all be sorted legally at cost. And the winners will be the Legal parasites.

    • Stephen G

      We wouldn’t need “Legal Parasites” if it wasn’t for “Parasites” like The Daughter!

  • TristansAdventures

    This is All ridiculous. I drive that road all the time and not to mention that lady was crossing on corner. number 2 it was dark outside number 3 she was crossing outside of a crosswalk. Number 4 she had no light on her bicycle. There are so many flaws against this case that this case will never win. You know this road and area you will know what I am talking about.

  • smartacus

    the daughter will be vilified even worse
    than adult-actress August Ames, who
    was shamed into taking her own life
    for refusing to do penetration scenes
    with men who go inside other men

  • TristansAdventures

    Nothing will happen. I know this road really well. Uber uses this road and drives in circles on two routes. Tempe police is strict on bicycle laws and the fact of hanging a light on your bicycle as she did not have. She also was crossing on a corner and a dark non lit area that road is very very wide four lanes with a huge median in the middle she should have seen the car easily from a distance. She was also not walking in a cross walk. There is nothing on that side of the road for her to be even walking too. There is a huge homeless camp on the opposite side of the bridge there. The lawsuit has not meritlal value. She was in the wrong on all counts.

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