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Driverless cars may be shifting liability from driver to product

Recently, the first few lawsuits have been filed against driverless vehicle makers. There have been instances of autonomous vehicles colliding with pedestrians, motorcyclists, other vehicles during both testing and operational phases. Many of these incidents led to significant pain and suffering, serious injuries and in some cases, death.

The question soon arises of who is at fault? Is it the vehicle manufacturer, driver, or another third party involved?

Lawsuits

A class action has been filed against Tesla for an autopilot program, which allegedly lacked safety features. There have also been lawsuits filed for single accidents, including a motorcyclist in San Francisco who filed against Chevrolet after an accident with a Chevrolet Bolt in driverless test mode. Many more crashes have been reported for other driverless exponents such as Uber, GM and Google.

State laws

As of 2017 29 states have laws in place surrounding driverless automobiles. The laws vary from state to state: Pennsylvania’s regulations are currently voluntary, with the state Department of Transportation working with car companies to achieve standards. In Pennsylvania, the manufacturers must provide basic information, as well as certifications, geographical areas and routes of testing. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration has also released voluntary guidelines.

Driver error

It could be that autonomous driving will soon become an essential part of life. Consider that the overwhelming majority of accidents on the road currently are believed to have been caused by driver error. Despite a few crashes caused by autopilots in testing mode, the overall long-term reduction in accidents could be much greater.

Driverless cars are available to purchase now and provide a fun glimpse into the not-too-distant future of transportation. However, it may be wise to wait until the laws catch up with the technology. If you do already drive an autonomous vehicle, it could pay to check your local laws on liability in the event of a crash. If you have been involved in an accident with a driverless car or truck, you might have a claim against the manufacturer.

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