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Motorcyclists sues over accident with self-driving car

A lot of motorcyclists have the firm belief that car drivers don’t want to share the road with them. Now, it seems like it’s possible even the cars without human drivers are out to get the folks on motorcycles!

General Motors has jumped on the whole self-driving car bandwagon, testing its Chevrolet Bolt in California. The Bolt was operating solo, without a human driver in control — just one serving as backup — when the car seemed to almost lunge after the victim’s motorcycle.

According to reports, the car suddenly swung out of its own lane and into another, promptly knocking the motorcyclist over in dense traffic. Fortunately for the motorcyclist, the car was only going about 12 miles per hour — although a knock from a car can be serious at any speed for an unprotected human.

The official version of the event, however, blames the motorcyclist for the accident. According to that record, the Cruise was in a the center of three lanes. It tried to merge left, but traffic wouldn’t permit it to make the merge, so it self-corrected back into its own lane. The motorcyclist was alleged to have meanwhile moved into the space as the driver tried to pass a car on the right.

The cyclist suffered an injured shoulder and is now suing. His attorney claims, essentially, that the police officer simply blamed the motorcyclist — a common complaint among injured bikers after car-to-motorcycle accidents. There is no way, the attorney claims, that the officer could make that determination well after events were over.

Autonomous autos are posing a serious dilemma for lawmakers, judges and juries because they open new legal questions that don’t yet have answers. For example, who is at fault when the car is in an accident once they’re out of the test phase and available for purchase?

In this case, General Motors is liable if the case is successful. In the future, lawsuits won’t be so easily settled as manufacturer, distributor and human owner all seek to shift the blame to each other.

Source:, “GM sued by motorcyclist in first lawsuit to involve autonomous vehicle,” Samuel Gibbs, accessed April 06, 2018


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