Glendale law firm says it represents daughter of woman killed by self-driving Uber

Posted: Updated:
(Source: Uber via Tempe Police Dept. and Facebook) (Source: Uber via Tempe Police Dept. and Facebook)
(Source: NTSB) (Source: NTSB)
(Source: Matt Barcelo) (Source: Matt Barcelo)

A Glendale law firm announced Thursday that the daughter of the woman who was hit and killed by a self-driving Uber SUV earlier this week has retained its legal services.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking her bike across Mill Avenue south of Curry Road in Tempe when the SUV hit her Sunday night.

The announcement from Bellah Perez, PLLC, a law firm specializing in personal injury cases, came less than 24 hours after the Tempe Police Department released video from the Uber SUV. That video showed what an exterior camera recorded, as well as an interior view of the safety operator who was behind the wheel. The released clip showed the moments leading up to the wreck but stop just short of the impact.

[READ MORE: Tempe PD releases video of moments before self-driving Uber hit, killed pedestrian]

[WATCH: Video of moments before fatal wreck]

[SLOW MOTION: Exterior view slowed to half-speed]

“As the first pedestrian death involving an UBER autonomous vehicle, the incident has sparked a national debate about the safety of self-driving cars, exposing the technology’s blind spots and raising questions of liability,” new release from the law firm said. “By encouraging businesses like Uber to set up shop in Arizona, the state has hoped to be at the forefront of emerging technology and the sharing economy. But the potentially drastic shift in accident liability associated with self-driving technology is causing many professionals to question the legal implications of the industry.”

[READ MORE: Understanding the challenges of driverless cars]

Uber immediately suspended the road tests of its autonomous vehicles that had been underway in Phoenix and other cities.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate the crash earlier this week, tweeting a photo of its team looking over the front-end damage on Uber’s SUV.

The Tempe Police Department said early indications are that the SUV was traveling about 40 mph and that there were no attempts to stop or take evasive action.

“As an Arizona law firm, we feel a special responsibility to represent this case as it directly impacts our fellow Arizonans sharing the road with these machines,” firm partner Cristina Perez Hesano said in a news release.

At this point, no notice of claim has been filed. That is the first step in filing a lawsuit against a public entity. According to the Arizona Revised Statutes, a plaintiff has 180 days “after the cause of action accrues,” to file a claim.

"Any claim that is not filed within one hundred eighty days after the cause of action accrues is barred and no action may be maintained thereon," explains ARS § 12-821-01.

Herzberg's daughter has not made any public statement about the death of her mother.

“Attorneys Richard Bellah and Cristina Perez Hesano will focus first and foremost on their client’s desire to make sense of the tragedy,” according to the firm’s news release. “The industry-wide implications of autonomous vehicles’ first pedestrian fatality will continue to be debated, but Bellah Perez doesn’t want the public to forget the loss experienced by the family of the victim.”


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