Drivers may no longer be found at fault in the future of personal injury claims involving car accidents. This is a shocking statement, but one that falls in-line with driverless technology. After all, “drivers” of autonomous cars cannot be liable when they are not the ones who are controlling the vehicle.
So Who Will be Liable in Autonomous Car Accidents?
There is little doubt that each state will look at driverless accidents and insurance a little differently (as they currently do). However, it will be hard to argue that a person “behind the wheel” should be held liable for an autonomous car running into other vehicles. For a car to truly be considered driverless, it must mean that a driver does not have to exist. If a driver does not exist, then it stands to reason that all parties within an autonomous car will be considered passengers. The car itself will be the driver; therefore, the car will be the thing that is held liable for the accident.
Cars Cannot Be Held Liable in Personal Injury Claims
The obvious truth is that cars cannot be held liable. However, every car accident claim does need to be placed on someone. So, if a car is the reason an accident occurred, in today’s world, the manufacturer will be the party held liable. For example, say a new car comes to a sale lot. If a potential buyer gets in the car, drives around the block, and gets into an accident because the car’s breaks were faulty, the driver of the car would not be liable. The responsible party in this scenario would be the manufacturer for allowing a broken car to be sent to a car lot. This scenario will be similar to autonomous car liability, but there is one key difference with driverless cars: the addition of software companies.
The Responsibility of Car Manufacturers & Software Companies
At this point in time, car manufacturing companies are not the only corporations who are trying to create autonomous vehicles. There are a number of well-established software companies. Google, for example, is putting their hat in the ring for creating self-driving software. There are also small start-up companies who are trying to create technological advancements that will help driverless cars break the barrier between science fiction and reality.
If and when autonomous cars are created, the two parties who will be held responsible for personal injury claims will be either the manufacturer or the software companies. Even in automated cars, parts will break. When parts do break, the manufactures will be held responsible. In the event that a passenger is injured from a car breaking, the liable party will be the manufacturer of the car.
However, the other entity that could be held liable for other self-driving car accident cases will be the software companies who created the autonomous car capabilities. Driverless software’s will glitch; when it does malfunction, passengers and insurance companies will be coming after the developers.
Still, there is sure to be a “driver override” function in self-driving cars where a human driver can take over. In the event that they crash a car, they would be responsible—even if cars were otherwise autonomous. This is clearly a major shift from the insurance and personal injury claims of today.
These Scenarios Are Still a Part of Science Fiction
While driverless and autonomous cars are coming to Pennsylvania sooner than we think, human error is still the majority cause of vehicle accidents at this point in time. For this reason, our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys will continue to seek justice for innocent drivers who are injured in car crashes. We hold the responsible parties accountable so that our clients can recover in peace.
If you have been injured in a car accident, call us at (888) 498-3023. We offer free case reviews.