Google recently unveiled the latest version of its self-driving car, wowing some observers. The small dome-shaped vehicle has headlights and comes with a removable gas pedal and wheel so that a “safety driver” can take over controlling the vehicle in the event of an emergency.
As fascinating as this emerging technology is – other automakers such as Mercedes and BMW are working on their own driverless cars – it raises several important questions concerning the future of automobile injury lawsuits. No prominent expert has guaranteed that driverless cars will not crash, and most would agree that even the most carefully designed machine can fail. These questions include:
- Who is responsible for a crash involving driverless cars? In a car crash lawsuit, an injured plaintiff is able to recover damages from a negligent driver after showing that the driver did not operate his or her car in a reasonably careful manner. But if two driverless cars collide, who would the injured party or parties seek compensation from: the other driver? The manufacturer of the car? The car’s programmer or programmers? Or all of the above? A driverless car crash may end up resulting in a much more in-depth investigation into the precise causes of the crash?
- Can passengers sue for injuries their own driverless car causes them? Consider a driverless car that is transporting several passengers. A deer suddenly jumps in front of the car, causing the car to automatically take an evasive maneuver. Unfortunately, the maneuver causes the passengers to be injured. Could the passengers sue the car manufacturer or another party to recover compensation? What if the passenger was equipped with emergency controls that would have enabled an attentive passenger to take control of the car and avoid any incident whatsoever?
- Will the standards of “reasonable care” change? Operating a vehicle in a “reasonable manner” usually means that the driver is properly licensed and has taken any driver’s education courses required by the state. But what standards of care – if any – will the owner of a driverless car need to comply with?
Charting the Future with a Car Accident Attorney
The law has responded in the past to technological advances, and as more and more driverless cars take to the roadway, the law will answer these questions and many others that will come up. This occurs when injury cases are brought to court and, using established legal principles, attorneys argue how these principles apply to new and unique factual situations.
Because of the uniqueness of every car accident, it makes sense to have an experienced car accident attorney at your side. A knowledgeable attorney can analyze the precise circumstances and facts surrounding your accident, determine what legal principles apply to your situation, and persuasively present these principles and facts so that you receive the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash, contact us right away at (508) 755-7535.