Motorcyclist Sues GM Over Crash With Self-Driving Chevy Bolt

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Oscar Nilsson filed a lawsuit against General Motors Monday concerning a collision between Nilsson on his motorcycle and a Chevy Bolt involved in GM’s Cruise self-driving test program in San Francisco.

The crash occurred on December 7, where Nilsson claims a Chevy Bolt involved in GM’s self-driving testing program swerved into his lane, knocking him off of his motorcycle and injuring him, via The Mercury News:

Nilsson claims in the suit that he was riding behind one of GM’s autonomous Bolts on Dec. 7 on Oak Street, when the car, with backup driver, changed lanes to the left. When he rode forward, the Bolt suddenly veered back into his lane and knocked him to the ground, according to the lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.


The San Francisco Police Department determined Nilsson to be at fault for the collision because he was attempting to pass on the right. The police report also claimed that the Bolt aborted its lane change, and that the GM employee behind the wheel of the vehicle attempted to steer away from the motorcyclist but was too late to avoid contact.

GM acknowledged the aborted lane change in its crash report to the California DMV, but did not admit fault. From The Mercury News:

The company acknowledged that the car, in autonomous-driving mode in heavy traffic, had aborted a lane change. But GM said that as its car was “re-centering itself” in the lane, Nilsson, who had been riding between two lanes in a legal-in-California practice known as lane-splitting, “moved into the center lane, glanced the side of the Cruise … wobbled, and fell over.”


The crash report also indicated that the Bolt was traveling at 12 mph and Nilsson was traveling at 17 mph. It’s not clear which version of the self-driving test setup the Chevy Bolt involved in the crash was equipped with.

Nilsson reported having to go on disability leave for shoulder and neck injuries which will require lengthy treatment, and he is seeking unspecified damages.


The lawsuit comes just shortly after GM announced the next iteration of its self-driving vehicles, which were teased to not include pedals or a steering wheel. As we’ve previously reported, the Cruise self-driving test program was involved in 22 of 27 total reported accidents involving self-driving vehicles in California last year, all of which were blamed on human error. GM claims it’s “confident” it will deploy fully autonomous cars by 2019.

As more companies dive into developing proprietary self-driving technologies and deploy test vehicles on public roads, expect to see many more incidents and lawsuits involving human injuries and dented test cars.


Jalopnik reached out to Nilsson’s attorney and GM and will update when more information is available.

Update Jan 23 9:15 p.m.: GM responded to Jalopnik’s request for comment:

“Safety is our primary focus when it comes to developing and testing our self-driving technology. In this matter, the SFPD collision report stated that the motorcyclist merged into our lane before it was safe to do so.”