On January 22, 2018, a California man filed a new lawsuit against General Motors in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiff claims that he suffered serious injuries to his neck and shoulder after colliding with a GM self-driving vehicle.
ABC News reported that the latest crash between the plaintiff, who was riding a motorcycle and the GM vehicle “is raising concerns over this emerging technology we see on our roadways.”
Plaintiff Blames Self-Driving Car for Accident
The DMV in California states that as of January 29, 2018, they’ve received 55 reports of traffic accidents including an autonomous vehicle. The Washington Post reports that two Teslas were involved in separate crashes in January alone.
The plaintiff states in his case that he was proceeding east on the middle lane of Oak Street in San Francisco on December 7, 2017. He was riding his motorcycle. Meanwhile, another individual was driving a 2016 Chevrolet vehicle, manufactured by GM, and had the vehicle in self-driving mode.
At one point, the plaintiff ended up behind the self-driving vehicle. The driver of that vehicle changed lanes to the left. The plaintiff continued straight, but then according to him, the self-driving vehicle suddenly veered back into the plaintiff’s lane, striking him and knocking him to the ground. As a result of the crash, he claims he suffered serious injuries to his neck and shoulder and will require lengthy treatment. He was also forced to take disability leave from his work.
The plaintiff claims that GM was negligent and breached its duty to be sure that the self-driving vehicle operated according to traffic laws and regulations. He seeks in excess of $75,000 in damages.
Was the Motorcyclist at Fault?
The DMV report on the incident tells a slightly different story. It says that the GM self-driving vehicle started to merge into the left lane, but then one of the vehicles in that lane decelerated. Sensing that deceleration and the closing gap in the left lane, the self-driving vehicle stopped making the lane change and returned to the center lane.
As it was doing so, the plaintiff’s motorcycle, which the DMV says had just lane-split between two vehicles in the center and right lanes (legal in California), moved into the center lane, too, “glanced the side” of the autonomous vehicle, wobbled, and fell over.
The report adds that the motorcyclist was determined to be at fault for attempting to overtake and pass another vehicle “under conditions that did not permit that movement….”
ABC News added that according to the plaintiff’s lawyer, the self-driving car made a maneuver that was unpredictable and dangerous.
More Self-Driving Car Lawsuits Likely in the Future
This is one of the first lawsuits to be filed involving a self-driving vehicle. The Post states that experts are already warning “that there will probably be many more accidents involving robot-operated cars, a type of accident that raises unresolved questions about responsibility and restitution.”
It is likely that the data from the autonomous vehicle, including radar sensor data and video recordings, will be used as evidence in court. However the case turns out, it will be watched carefully as self-driving cars continue to increase on America’s roads.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.