Who is at Fault in a Driverless Auto Accident?

At some point in the near future it is safe to say that the majority of the vehicles on the highway may have no human operators. Google took its first driverless ride on a public road way in Austin back in October 2015. Russia recently launched Europe’s first driverless taxi service, this coming just days after the world’s first driverless taxi debuted in Tokyo.

Driverless vehicles are not limited to cars either. Tesla has showcased an electric truck with self-driving capabilities earlier this year. Uber just recently announced it was starting a commercial delivery service involving driverless trucks and has already tested a prototype over a 344 mile trek across Arizona. Embark, a Silicon Valley start-up, announced in 2017 that it had been testing its self-driving technology as part of a three-way partnership with the truck-leasing company Ryder and the appliance giant Electrolux. Heck, a small start-up company in Florida, Strarsky Robotics, sent a driverless truck on a 7-mile journey this past February.

As driverless vehicles become more sophisticated and driver assistance systems become more advanced, the odds of me or you seeing one on the road increase by the minute. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. CNBC published an article just two days ago stating Alphabet’s (Google’s) self-driving cars are said to be annoying their neighbors in Arizona where the company has best testing its vehicles for over a year. According to another article appearing on The Telegraph just yesterday, Waymo’s self-driving cards struggle to turn left and don’t understand basic road features. So what does all of this mean? It means we know these technologies are far from perfect. Accidents are bound to happen so let’s take a look at what the law says now about driverless auto accidents. The following is an article taken from The Rothenberg Law Firm blog.

What to Expect in Driverless Car Accident Lawsuits

Mark Geistfeld, a professor at NYU Law, weighed in on the matter of fault in a driverless car accident after taking a driverless Tesla ride on Manhattan’s West Side Highway.

Geistfeld is quick to admit that experts have not come to a consensus when attempting to answer these types of questions. The relevant laws may need to be slightly adjusted or amended in response to the automated driving revolution.

In the meantime, the inherent uncertainties regarding who is to blame in a driverless car accident make the work of a car accident attorney more ambiguous, as the laws they would reference in a driverless car accident lawsuit are not explicit.

How to Apply the Law to Driverless Car Accident

By reviewing the current laws around car accidents, Geistfeld finds that these issues may not be as confusing as they’ve been made out to be. He claims they simply “haven’t been sufficiently well thought out.” For example, manufacturers will be responsible for protecting their vehicles from cyber attacks and hackers. If a hacker gains access to a vehicle and causes an incident that results in an auto accident injury, the manufacturer may be liable in such cases. Manufacturers may also be held responsible if hardware or programming malfunctions cause accidents.

The driverless car is no longer a sci-fi trope. In the not too distant future, they’ll begin to replace human-operated vehicles. Although these vehicles are expected to dramatically reduce the rate of auto accidents, they won’t eliminate them completely.

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