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Could Uber face charges after deadly self-driving crash? Expert says yes

Thanks to an executive order signed by Gov. Doug Ducey just weeks ago, corporations like Uber can face the same charges a person would.

TEMPE, Ariz. - Driverless technology is under fire after a 49-year-old pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber in Tempe Sunday night.

Uber has pulled all of its self-driving cars off of the road but a legal expert tells 12 News the company could face civil or even criminal charges.

"Under the law and a new executive order, a company can be held liable civilly and criminally," said attorney Benjamin Taylor.

Taylor says a document signed just weeks ago by Gov. Doug Ducey, corporations like Uber can face the same charges a person would.

"It could be manslaughter, it could be assault," Taylor explained. "As far as a civil case, Uber could be found negligent of not administering the proper procedures and handling of their technology."

Taylor says the same goes for the back-up driver, who was sitting in the front seat at the time of the fatal crash. The car was in self-driving mode. Taylor says it could be a challenging case because the pedestrian jaywalked.

"It'll be interesting to see what a prosecutor will do," said Taylor.

This is the first time a self-driving car has killed a pedestrian but far from the first crash involving self-driving technology.

In 2016, a man driving a Tesla in Florida using its autopilot system crashed and died. Investigators later said the driver was ultimately to blame.

Last year, another self-driving Uber car flipped over at the fault of another driver who failed to yield.

Putting the blame aside, this latest fatal crash is raising concerns in the community.

"Honestly I don't think they should be on the road," said Roseanna McLeod of Phoenix.

"I think behind the wheel is safer than no one behind the wheel at all," Keandre Mosquete of Phoenix.

While Uber has pulled all of its self-driving cars off the road, other companies testing in the Phoenix area, like Waymo, have not.

Investigators are in the process of reviewing dash cam video from the Uber involved in the deadly crash.

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