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Self-Driving Vehicles and Product Liability

Who is liable when a car accident occurs involving a driverless car?

Self-driving cars are widely regarded as the future of the automotive industry.  Several major automobile companies and tech giant Google have been testing autonomous vehicles on roadways in certain U.S. cities for the past few years.  Already, semi-autonomous vehicles that allow the car to take control for short periods of time are being sold internationally. While the potential benefits of autonomous vehicles are tremendous, self-driving vehicles raise some potential liability concerns.  With the human element removed, just who is liable when an accident happens involving a self-driving vehicle?  Our Marietta, Georgia car accident lawyers explore the complex liability issues surrounding driverless cars below.

Human Error Is The Number One Cause of Accidents Today

Currently, the majority of all car accidents stem from human error.  Common causes of car accidents today include speeding, driver distraction, failure to abide by traffic signals, driver intoxication, and more.  In our traditional fault system, human drivers obtain insurance to protect themselves in the event they cause or are injured in an accident.  If deemed at fault for an accident, a driver or his or her insurance company will be responsible for paying for the injured party’s losses.

Product Liability

With the human element to a car accident removed, product liability may become the central focus following any car accident.  The manufacturers of any product are responsible to ensure the product is safe for its intended use. Vehicle manufacturers can be liable when a defect within the vehicle or its design causes a car accident.  The makers of autonomous vehicles may similarly be held accountable when an accident occurs due to a vehicle defect.

Vehicle manufacturers are sure to take steps to protect themselves from liability as autonomous vehicles are released to the public.  Car manufacturers may require drivers to waive liability.  Federal or state laws may change to specifically regulate the new industry of self-driving vehicles, and the automobile insurance agency will surely change as well.

The future of the automobile industry is evolving and laws will accordingly adapt to it.  Anyone who is injured due to a semi-autonomous driving feature should consult with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.



Posted in: Automobile Wrecks