Autonomous Driving: Who’s At Fault?

Car Accidents | December 12, 2017

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that ninety-four percent of [auto] crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error. A few reasons why interest has grown in autonomous electric vehicles over the last couple of years is due to the advancements of Visual A.I (Artificial Intelligence) and camera technology, giving the vehicle an opportunity to view and understand the objects surrounding its self, thus achieving autonomy. Keeping that in mind, the cost of computing power has dropped significantly since the beginning of 2010 coupled with the staggering growth of software development, it allows car companies to make larger investments in things like research and development which has ultimately lead to the dilemma we have now. If vehicles will be driving on their own (autonomous driving), who is held responsible if someone suffers from an injury/fatality or property is damaged?

While certain companies like Honda and Toyota have more conservative approaches to investing in self-driving cars, other companies like Ford and GM are diving in head first – GM pledging $500 million in 2016 and Ford announcing a partnership with Lyft in August of 2017. Although some might be more invested than others, the truth is that most of the big guys are developing autonomy in some capacity. While there are plenty of contestants involved in the race towards the best autonomous car, the fact is that 42 companies are now testing 285 self-driving cars in the Golden State. Beginning next year completely autonomous vehicles will be allowed to drive on California roads.

Self-driving cars are already in our midst and lawmakers are having trouble keeping up. For the most part only a handful of local state laws have been received, but in September of 2017, The House of Representatives decided it was in everyone’s best interest to pass the SELF DRIVE ACT (Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In-Vehicle Evolution.) This legislation provides a basic foundation from which to build off of when it comes to autonomous vehicle regulations. Laws like this are just now being introduced while the Tesla Model S was involved in a fatal car accident in 2016, a year prior. However, this wouldn’t be the first time in history that technological advancements outpaced new legislation to support it.

Another matter to be dealt with when it comes to autonomous vehicles is insurance, and who will be the one to cover expenses when a self-driving automobile is involved in an accident. “A driverless car changes that model, shifting the insurance toward automakers, and away from drivers or car owners.” The general consensus at this time seems to be that manufacturers are liable, but as some experts have pointed out, this may only be temporary. Although this transition of liability is up in the air for right now, the idea is that precedent for determining fault and liability will be set on a case by case basis, as the general population is still considering all the possibilities and outcomes of autonomous vehicles, and deciding in what capacity manufacturers can be held accountable.

The truth is that accidents involving self-driving vehicles with autonomous features can be complex and it may be in your best interest to seek legal counsel. If you or a loved one has been injured by a vehicle that fits that description, please talk to the Louisville personal injury lawyers at Hendy Johnson Vaughn Emery, who are highly experienced and well versed with personal injury cases and class action lawsuits. Please call (859)-578-4444 or contact us online for more information about opening a case.

If this article sounds similar to a recent experience that you or a loved one have suffered from, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call 859-578-4444 to schedule a free consultation!

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