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First Self-Driving Car Lawsuit Filed after Crash

General Motors is involved in the first self-driving car lawsuit filed after a crash. GM is now being sued over an accident involving a self-driving car.  Thankfully, this was a low-speed crash without a fatality.  A motorcyclist said he suffered neck and shoulder injuries after one of GM’s self-driving cars swerved into his lane and knocked him down.

Oscar Willhelm Nilsson said on Jan. 22, 2018 that the accident occurred when he tried to pass a Cruise Automation 2016 Chevrolet Bolt.  The Bolt began to switch lanes, but then suddenly swung back into its original lane and hit Mr. Nilsson.  His lawsuit said that he has had to take disability leave from his job due to his injuries.

His lawsuit petition reads: “As a result of such negligent driving, Mr. Nilsson sustained serious injuries of body and mind and incurred expenses for medical care and attendance, all to the great detriment of Mr. Nilsson for past, present, and future damages.”

The accident occurred Dec. 7, 2017 in San Francisco. Calif., while the GM car was in self-driving mode, according to the complaint.  Mr. Nilsson said the car indicated it was merging left, so he drove straight ahead once the car had cleared lanes.  Then, however, the Bolt swerved back into the original lane, knocking him over and causing neck and shoulder injuries that require “lengthy treatment.”

Mr. Nilsson is seeking damages, costs and attorneys’ fees for the alleged negligence.

GM Disputes Lawsuit Claim
GM reported a different version of events to the California DMV.  GM said its car was driving in the middle of three one-way lanes when it started to merge into the left lane. The minivan ahead of the car then slowed down, and the Bolt abandoned its attempt to merge, said GM.

While the GM car was “re-centering” itself in the middle lane, a motorcycle that had passed between two vehicles in the center and right lanes hit the side of the car and fell over, scuffing the  vehicle’s side, said the report.

The GM report said the self-driving car had been keeping pace with surrounding traffic at 12 mph while the motorcycle was traveling 17 mph.

GM Statement
A GM representative said by email: “Safety is our primary focus when it comes to developing and testing our self-driving technology.  In this matter, the [San Francisco Police Department] collision report stated that the motorcyclist merged into our lane before it was safe to do so.”

Mr. Nilsson’s lawyer reached on Jan. 24 by The Mercury News (former paper of the courageous Pulitzer Prize Winner Gary Webb) said again that they believe GM’s self-driving vehicle was at fault in the accident.

First Self-Driving Car Lawsuit Filed after Crash
The case is Oscar Willhelm Nilsson vs. General Motors LLC, case number 3:18-cv-00471 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

This may not turn out to be a particularly strong case, if the GM defense position has merit, but it may well turn out to be an historic case. Millions of self-driving vehicles may one day soon be on the nation’s roads.  Uber is already wildly enthusiastic about the possibility, as self-driving cars could cut out the middle man and make it a lot cheaper for the company to run people to their destinations.

Self-driving Car Lawsuit

Matthews & Associates Law Firm is investigating self-driving car lawsuits.  If you or someone you love was injured by a self-driving car, contact our law offices for a free legal consultation.

 

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