Family of pedestrian killed by self-driving Uber test car files $10M claim against city

February 4, 2019

Family members related to the pedestrian who was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber test vehicle have filed a new lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona, seeking $10 million.

The Arizona Republic reported last week the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Elaine Herzberg's daughter and her husband and seeks $5 million for each of them. The argument for the case against the city involves the area where Herzberg crossed in the road, which was not a designated crosswalk for pedestrians. Lawyers for the family members argue the median in the street where the crash occurred included a brick pathway "that is clearly designed to accommodate people to cross at the site of the accident."

READ THIS: Self-driving Uber car in Arizona hits, kills bicyclist

The city tore out the brick pathway around the same time the lawsuit was filed.

Signs posted at the pathway instructed pedestrians to cross at a different place than where Herzberg pushed her bicycle across the street.

The Uber test car's software reportedly detected Herzberg as an obstacle but took too long to recognize that it needed to brake. Uber had disabled the Volvo's built-in automatic emergency braking system and the single Uber backup driver was reportedly watching her smartphone in the moments leading up to the crash.

ALSO SEE: IIHS faults Uber for deactivating Volvo's automatic emergency braking in fatal crash

Herzberg's daughter reached a settlement with Uber fewer than two weeks after the crash.

Attorneys told the publication the case was a weak one and it's highly unlikely the city will dish out $10 million. One attorney said the high figure was simply a way to produce media coverage. Others added the city is generally not responsible to warn pedestrians of clear and obvious dangers. People are obligated to cross where the city has marked a crosswalk, which was not present where Herzberg was killed, Logan Elia, an attorney with the Rose Law Group, told the newspaper.

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