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Driverless Cars May Change Nature of Personal Injury Cases

 Posted on April 26,2017 in Car Accidents

Driverless Cars May Change Nature of Personal Injury CasesIf you are injured in a car accident, you can seek compensation from another driver if he or she is at fault. What if the driver at fault is not a person but a computer? Accidents involving self-driving cars may be a problem of the future, but that future is near. Companies are already testing driverless vehicles in some states, and the Illinois legislature is considering a bill that would allow such vehicles here. Researchers are considering the legal ramifications of when accidents involving self-driving cars become more common.

Perfect Drivers?

A national study claims that 90 percent of all vehicle accidents are caused by human error. Scientists are developing self-driving cars because computers will not commit those errors. A computer cannot drive drunk or experience road rage. Developers can program the car to not drive at unsafe speeds. However, computer-controlled vehicles are not flawless drivers:

  • A computer is not making a judgment call but is responding to a specific situation in a programmed way. Programmers need to design software that will appropriately respond to various scenarios that can be difficult to predict.
  • Computers are susceptible to glitches, shutdowns and hacking. If such an error happens to a computer driving a car, it may become a threat to other drivers.
  • In some situations, an accident is unavoidable. No amount of quick reaction and driving skill will be able to prevent it.

Because of potential liability, manufacturers of self-driving vehicles will likely try to work out these issues before the vehicles become proliferous.

Determining Fault

Logic may suggest that the owner of a driverless vehicle will be held responsible if the vehicle causes an accident. Some researchers think that liability will shift to the manufacturers. If a computer malfunction causes a car accident, then the people who designed the computer are responsible. If corporations are held liable for these accidents, it may affect the nature of personal injury cases. Corporations may have advantages that individual drivers do not, such as:

  • Financial resources to draw out the case as long as they want;
  • Data from the accident that makes it harder to prove liability; and
  • A record of product safety that suggests the self-driving vehicle was not at fault. 

The initial personal injury cases involving driverless vehicles will set important precedents for future cases.

Personal Injury Compensation

For now, we only need to be concerned about human drivers. If you have been hurt in a car accident, a Plainfield, IL car accident attorney at Flaherty Law, LLC can help you obtain damages from the driver at fault. Call 815-577-7500 to schedule a free consultation.


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