There are currently no fully driverless cars on the market, but this will change in the near future. Technology companies such as Google have been conducting tests of autonomous vehicles on the roads in the state of California for the past few years. It has been suggested that autonomous vehicles could significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents, particularly those that are the result of carelessness on the part of drivers (drunk and distracted driving).
However, even if we had driverless cars on the roads, there would still be the possibility of car accidents happening. In March, a self-driving Uber vehicle was involved in a collision in Arizona, and in May of 2016, a Tesla with its driver inside was killed in a collision in Florida while the vehicle was in autopilot mode.
The most important question is, of course, who is to blame for an accident that was caused by a car that drives itself. It is possible to identify who or what is at fault in an everyday vehicle that is being driven by an individual. For instance, if a driver runs a red light and collides with another vehicle, causing the occupants of the other vehicle to sustain injuries, the driver who is at fault can be held liable for the injuries and losses sustained by the victims. Who should be held liable, however, in the event that a self-driving car, for example, fails to stop when it approaches a stop sign or fails to yield the right of way?
The solutions to these problems, much like fully autonomous vehicles, are not yet available to the public. When it comes to driverless cars and questions of liability, however, academics and other experts in the field typically operate under two overarching presumptions. First, they believe that there will be a reduction in the number of accidents caused by the widespread use of self-driving cars. And two, that there will be some liability being transferred from drivers to manufacturers in some fashion. The federal government’s guidance on self-driving cars, which was released last year, places this responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the individual states.
The companies that are currently testing self-driving cars do in fact, carry auto insurance, as is required by state law for any driver. In regard to the issue of insurance once more, the insurance industry needs to develop innovative products that are suitable for self-driving cars. The companies that provide auto insurance have stated that they are also still working on it.
The state of Michigan was the first in the nation to pass legislation governing insurance for driverless cars and autonomous vehicles. According to the law of that state, the manufacturer of a self-driving car should be held liable for any damages caused by the vehicle in the event that the operating system of the vehicle is found to be at fault for a car accident.
Have you or a member of your family suffered injuries due to a car accident? Our car accident lawyers at Garcia and Phan can assist you in better understanding the legal rights and options available to you. Dial our number, (714) 586-8298, to take advantage of our no-cost consultation and comprehensive review of your case