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Posted on 01-28-2018

General Motors Sued Over Collision Between Autonomous Vehicle and Motorcycle

As my avid blog followers already know, I am a Baltimore Chiropractor with three Chiropractic/rehab clinics in Baltimore, MD. Due to the congested nature of the roads in and around Baltimore, we treat many Baltimore citizens who have suffered from auto accident injuries. Typically these patients present with headaches, neck pain, and back pain. Occasionally these pains radiate from their neck and go down their arm. These symptoms can include radiating pain and/or numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected extremity. Additionally, we routinely treat patients with sciatica, as they similarly display pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness due to lower back injuries.

I like to skim the headlines for news articles that are likely to impact me and my business. Anytime I see something that relates to autonomous driving and auto accidents I stop in my tracks to read the article. A recent article has surfaced that I find interesting because it has many ramifications on the future of autonomous driving. In past blog posts I have posed the question as to who is ultimately financially responsible if an autonomous vehicle causes a crash? Would it be the manufacturer? The owner of the vehicle?

In what's thought to be the first lawsuit of its kind, a motorcyclist in San Francisco is suing General Motors, manufacturer of the Chevy Cruise for injuries and pain and suffering stemming from a December 7th collision in which the motorcyclist alleges that the Chevy Cruise changed lanes and knocked the cyclist onto the ground, injuring his neck and shoulder. By the way, we routinely treat patients with neck and shoulder pain so these symptoms would not be shocking to me or the Chiropractors that I work with.

As is the case with any motor vehicle collision or car accident, there are two sides to the story. The motorcyclist reports that he was lane-splitting (riding between two lanes of traffic, which apparently is legal in California) when he reported that the Chevy Cruise left the center lane and attempted to merge into the left lane. He then reports that the Cruise veered back into the lane that he was in, striking him, and causing his motorcycle to wobble before finally hitting the ground and injuring him. It is thought that the speeds during the collision were relatively slow, somewhere between 12-17 mph. As my chiropractors and I are aware injuries can definitely occur even at relatively low rates of speed.

Another interesting twist to the article is that there was a human assistant driver behind the wheel of the Chevy Cruise at the time of the collision. He reportedly tried to take control of the vehicle to avoid impacting the motorcyclist but he was unable to. Will he also be named in the lawsuit? I think its too early to tell.

The police report alleges that the motorcyclist was at fault, stating that the Cruise attempted to merge left, aborted the merge, and then came back into its own lane. It further alleges that the motorcyclist made an unsafe lane change when conditions did not permit it.

First and foremost I hope that the motorcyclist, regardless of who is ultimately at fault for the accident, makes a complete recovery. The more interesting thing that remains to be seen over the next few months is the case-law component. That is, who will the courts find is ultimately responsible for injuries inflicted upon motorcyclists and car passengers when an autonomous vehicle is found to have caused injuries. As soon as I know the answer I'll be sure to post an update to this blog post.

For now, if you, or someone you know, has been injured as a result of a Baltimore auto accident injury, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be happy to get you back on the road to recovery!

Dr. Gulitz

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