16 Jul 2020
What would seem like common sense to most of us, may not be when it comes to laws that are supposedly designed to protect people from common hazards. In Arizona, this question may come under closer examination now that the city of Tempe, Arizona is currently facing litigation from the surviving family members of a woman that was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving car. The lawsuit alleges that when the city paved a median across a busy street, it created a situation which put pedestrians at risk.
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According to a story in the Drive.com website by Stephen Edelstein, the husband, and daughter of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg is suing the city of Tempe for $10 million – $5 million for both Herzberg’s daughter, Christine Wood and her husband, Rolf Ziemann. Herzberg was struck and killed by a self-driving car owned by Uber on March 18, 2018, as she was crossing the street.
Cellphone records confirmed that while the Uber driver had been streaming a television show before hitting and killing Herzberg, Uber settled the lawsuit with the family for an undisclosed amount last year. Uber has suspended testing of their self-driving cars on public roads after the fatal crash.
This latest lawsuit filed on behalf of Herzberg’s family alleges that city of Tempe should be held liable because the city had installed a concrete and brick pathway designed to accommodate pedestrians crossing in the area of Mill Avenue and Curry Road where the fatal accident occurred.
Attorneys representing the family allege in documents filed with the court that by installing a pathway through the desert vegetation growing in the median, it encourages pedestrians to jaywalk in the same way that Herzberg did.
Prior to the modifications, there had also been traffic signs which directed pedestrians to use the crosswalk to cross the street. Court documents submitted by the plaintiffs point out that signs had not been reinstalled by the time of the fatal crash.