As engineering, computers, AI, and other technologies advance, it has become
clear that self-driving cars are inevitable. Our personal injury attorneys
will be examining who could be held liable if a self-driving car causes
an accident that injures a human.
In February of 2016, Google’s self-driving car crashed into the side
of a bus while driving on El Camino Real in California. The car’s
computer detected sandbags around a storm drain and swerved into the next
lane to avoid hitting them. In doing so, the car crashed into the side
of a public transit bus. Thankfully, no one was injured, but in the wake
of the accident, manufacturers, engineers, and legal experts are tasked
with the responsibility of determining who will be liable in a car accident.
Tort law regarding liability currently permits drivers to file for compensation
from manufacturers if they were injured by a defect in the vehicle. This
current liability law could be applied to automated driving features,
meaning a manufacturer could be held responsible for automated car accidents
or injuries. In fact, some manufacturers have already announced to the
public that they plan to take responsibility if their autonomous cars
are involved in a car accident.
Even if manufacturers accept liability for their self-driving cars, drivers
will still be required to purchase car insurance. However, this new technology
could require legal experts to rethink collision insurance, especially
when examining comparative negligence. What percentage at-fault is the
driver, the computer and the third party involved? Was the autonomous
car acting reasonably?
One thing is certain, as consumers begin the widespread adoption of the
autonomous cars, legislators will be forced to interpret or change existing
laws to accommodate this new technology.
Check out our page on
car accident liability in New York for more information.