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Who Is Liable in Driverless Vehicle Accidents?

Posted on October 3, 2016

Driverless cars have always seemed like a distant advance in technology of the future, however, thanks to companies like Google, Apple, and Uber, this technology is quickly becoming an addition to the way in which we travel soon. These vehicles are credited with more efficient travel through fewer accidents and cars communicating with each other, making it easier to maintain changes while on the road. Most importantly, the deadly human aspect of distracted driving or intoxicated driving would become a thing of the past because of the car’s ability to autonomously drive itself. What most are concerned with however, are the rules that surround autonomous driving, or lack thereof.

How Regulation Will Influence

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the United States Department of Transportation, recently set out regulations called the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy that will regulate autonomous or driverless vehicles throughout the United States. Government officials have expressed excitement about the technology advancements and the driverless cars’ ability to learn from the mistakes and data in other cars and implement those safety measures, unlike humans who can continuously make the same mistakes multiple times.

Determining Liability

Similar to how liability is determined on a state by state basis currently and is either attributed on fault or no-fault basis, liability for autonomous vehicles may follow similar regulations. On an individual level, states must determine who will be responsible for purchasing and maintaining car insurance and who will be liable. In some states, liability may be attributed to a manufacturer if the accident was due to the automated driver’s malfunction, but if it was due to human involvement or error, the driver will be responsible and their liability will be assessed using the state’s attributable fault basis.

The Future of Taxis

Uber has just launched their first set of driverless cars to pick up riders to be tested in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. Additionally, both ride-sharing company Lyft and Ford Motor Corporation committed to releasing driverless cars by 2021. While the trial set of vehicles for Uber are actually staffed with trained safety drivers and engineers, the eventual goal is to be able to program them to operate alone. In the meantime, liability remains the overarching issue that critics see with a self-operating taxi service. Autonomous cars are not just in the United States alone; a software company in Singapore has also begun developing and road testing the world’s first autonomous taxi service.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Now

If you or someone you know has questions regarding their level of fault and liability in an accident, please do not hesitate to reach out to the experienced and knowledgeable team of attorneys at the office of Charles Bryan Alred, PC to discuss your claim. Contact our office using our website or call us at 918-745-9960 for a free initial consultation with one of our skilled legal professionals.