One of the technological revolutions that are on the horizon is the self-driving car. Once the technology is accepted, the way people travel will be changed in ways that most people have not yet grasped, according to a recent article on Law.com. Self-driving cars will also change how car crashes are litigated.
Most futurists believe that self-driving cars will mean that individual auto ownership will become a thing of the past. When people want to commute to work or go out on a night on the town, they will summon a self-driving car on their smartphone and ride it to their destination. A computer and a suite of sensors will be in control, not the passengers.
Advocates of self-driving cars believe that technology will reduce the number of accidents drastically. Computers do not get distracted, drunk, high, or immersed in road rage. But does this mean the end of personal injury litigation where car crashes are concerned?
The number of auto accidents will decline, but not to zero. Computer glitches will occur. Hardware will fail. Some even fear that terrorists or other cyber criminals will hack into self-driving car systems and turn vehicles into weapons to wreck death and mayhem.
In such an instance, who is responsible for the crash? Who gets sued to recover damages? The conclusion of the Law.com article is that the car manufacturer and operators will be at fault rather than the passenger. The passenger will be a passive participant in any kind of car crash.
Litigation could be complicated depending on how many people and what property are involved in the crash. Would each participant sue separately, or would their civil actions be combined with the judgment doled out according to severity of the injury or loss? These are considerations that both future passengers of self-driving cars and their lawyers are going to have to consider going forward.
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