Autonomous Cars and Personal Injury

Personal injury cases are all about negligence—if one party’s negligence is the root cause of your injury, they are held responsible for paying damages. Vehicle accidents are often caused by negligence on the part of one or both drivers, but the increased use of driverless cars could change that.

When it comes to autonomous cars, pinning down the responsible party can get a little difficult, and it’s possible that no one would be at fault at all. Here, we’ll go over how autonomous vehicles may affect personal injury cases.

Car Accidents, Negligence, and Liability

A large portion of vehicle accidents result from one driver’s negligence. This is often in the form of distraction – texting, eating, adjusting the AC, etc. A distracted driver may fail to follow road signs or notice changes in traffic, ultimately leading to an accident. Reckless driving, such as speeding or following too closely, could also result in injury while behind the wheel.

If you are a victim of this type of accident, you would be entitled to compensation due to the other driver’s negligence. They would be held liable for your injury since they ultimately caused it through distracted or reckless driving, and therefore would be responsible for making sure your medical expenses, pain, and suffering are all paid for.

If you are a victim of this type of accident, you would be entitled to compensation due to the other driver’s negligence. They would be held liable for your injury since they ultimately caused it through distracted or reckless driving, and therefore would be responsible for making sure your medical expenses, pain, and suffering are all paid for.

Evidence in these cases usually takes the form of eyewitness accounts, timestamps on texts, and other physical evidence from the wreck. When an autonomous vehicle is involved, however, the case changes.

Shift in Liability

When a driverless car is the cause of an accident, there is no negligent driver to take the blame. Therefore, liability would fall instead on manufacturers and other parties responsible for the design, production, and testing of these vehicles – assuming, of course, that there is actually anything wrong with the vehicle’s design or construction in the first place. It may be that the car’s hardware and software are perfectly sound and that no one or perhaps even the injured party was to blame.

If there is a flaw with the vehicle’s design or construction itself, and if that flaw led to the accident, then it becomes a matter of assessing what went wrong and who was responsible for the flaw. The vehicle’s manufacturer may be to blame for physical defects, its engineers could be at fault for inherently flawed design, or third party vendors could be responsible for malfunctioning software or accident avoidance systems. Tracing liability would then be a matter of careful technical analysis of the crash and the vehicle’s design.

The Foreseeable Future

For now, driverless cars aren’t very common, so very few – if any – personal injury cases involve this technology. It may also be a long time before these cars become commonplace since manufacturers don’t want to take the risk of being held liable for accidents, and many drivers don’t like the idea of having their car control itself.

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident, you will need a personal injury attorney to represent you. Hart & David can provide the legal assistance you need to claim what you deserve.

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