The family of Elaine Herzberg has filed a claim against the city of Tempe in Arizona seeking $10M.
Elaine Herzberg was killed by a self-driving Uber on March 18, 2018, while walking her bicycle across the street. Herzberg was homeless at the time of the accident. Herzberg’s daughter and widow filed the claim, asking for $5 million each as compensation for the wrongful death of the 49 year old.
The claim says that the city of Tempe was liable because of failing to exercise reasonable care to make the area safe for pedestrians. There was a brick walkway in the street, but it didn’t align with any crosswalks. The claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, accuses the city of failing to provide a crosswalk and properly light the area. Herzberg was struck by the autonomous car at night, and the back-up driver was looking down.
Herzberg’s widow and daughter settled with Uber immediately after the incident. Almost a year later, they now turn their attention to the City with this claim.
“Generally, the city is not obligated to warn people of open and obvious dangers,” said attorney Logan Elia. “The obligation is in the other direction. People are obligated not to cross the street outside of crosswalks.”
Attorney James Arrowood, who isn’t representing either party, predicted this would be a tough case. Because there have not been many cases related to autonomous vehicles, each lawsuit is challenging because of new technology emerging.
“I think this particular case is going to be more than interesting with regards to legal precedents. I think it could be in a sense without being too grandiose, history making, certainly in the state of Arizona,” Arrowood added.
The city of Tempe has 60 days to respond. The city acknowledged the claim, but has not commented on pending litigation.