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Who Would be Responsible for a Driverless Car Accident?

Driverless Car Accident Automated Driving – What are the Legal Implications?

It is easy to blame a driver who causes a collision on the road. It is also easy to take him to court if you sustained injuries during the accident. But how do you seek compensation if the vehicle in question did not have any driver behind the wheel to begin with?

Google’s driverless car prototype is a case in point. New concerns are being raised about the legalities of such futuristic inventions especially since they will operate on the road. Corporate counsel at Google Inc. Thomas Leu defends the technology, “Driving is actually a very dangerous activity…. Self driving cars – they don’t fall asleep, they don’t get drunk, and they don’t get distracted by text messages or phone calls. So we think that developing this technology really gives us a chance to dramatically reduce car incidents that are caused by human error.”

Who Is Responsible for a Driverless Car Accident?

However, this begs the question; who will be held liable for possible malfunctions? Who will accident victims seek damages from if a driverless car goes out of control and causes an accident? This was a question that was asked in a post on The New York Times. The post further asks what will happen if such a vehicle ends up killing someone or if Google Maps sends it the wrong way on a one way street. Author, Claire Cain Miller answers the question, “As robots become mainstream, lawmakers will have to grapple with how to govern machines and hold software accountable. Only four states and the District of Colombia have passed laws specific to driverless cars, some just allowing manufacturers to test cars and none answering every legal question that might come up.” Other possible implications that are discussed in the post are as follows –

If an Automated Car Kills Someone?

According to Miller, a case such as this may include several parties who would could be held responsible. However, it might ultimately be the manufacturer, Google or any number of other companies dipping their toes into the driverless car market that would probably be held accountable for the accident.

What about Traffic Tickets?

Miller argues the owner of the automated vehicle might be held accountable. Yes, this is even if it was the vehicle and not the owner who broke the law.

According to associate professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University J. Christian Gerdes, “I think the limiting factor is really going to be safety. I’m not aware of anyone who isn’t dedicated to making the system safe but the question, really, is how safe?”

Some experts argue that driverless technology may actually save lives since it doesn’t emulate certain bad behaviors like drunk driving. However, others argue that automated vehicles might confuse legal representatives or victims on who to blame if malfunctions cause them to go out of control on the road. At the end of the day, much of this is only speculation at this point since we are still several years away, but one thing is for certain: driverless cars are coming and it’s never too soon to begin discussing the many different moving parts involved.

Obviously, you can’t blame a driverless car for an accident you have had recently, but luckily for you, our car accident attorneys are well versed in dealing with human drivers. Call us at 972-774-9800 or contact us online to find out how we can help.