It was just a matter of time. Driverless cars-the wave of the future. Some greedy corporate types decided to push the envelope and bring driverless cars to market before the technology was solid and the legal and social structures had been properly prepared. Now, we have a fatality. Whose to blame? The driverless car industry for one and Uber for another.
Who thinks it’s a good idea for driverless cars when the technology isn’t ready. The car that struck 49-year-old Elaine Hertzberg while she tried to cross the street in Tempe, Arizona didn’t even brake. Uber thought this was a great idea? Sure, it would drive their profit margin through the roof but what about the human cost. A woman in the prime of her life is dead because two companies put profits above principle. What’s wrong with that it in a country that is founded on democratic capitalism? Everything. The achilles heel of capitalism is greed. In a moral universe, capitalism is the best system because it allows for freedom and creativity. In an immoral or amoral world, capitalism becomes a ravenous beast that feeds on the vulnerable and poor. Why do I mention this? Because the legal system is supposed to be the safeguard. Lawyers are the bulwark between the people and the ravenous beast. In this case, either Uber or the car company that put the driverless car on the roadway need to be held responsible.
Here’s the problem. The law hasn’t caught up to technological advances. US jurisprudence is based on precedent. If we don’t have that, it’s hard to prosecute a case against either company. However, there may be a way to use existing tort law in this case. Careless disregard for the public welfare may be a way around the lack of precedent for such a case. Stay tuned.