Self-Driving Cars Raise Issues about Liabilty

A White TeslaInnovations in artificial intelligence (AI) have come in leaps and bounds these past several decades. Various kinds of AI have been developed to help us improve our daily life and safety. In particular, self-driving cars, also called driverless cars, were developed to help prevent drunk driving accidents, minimize road and traffic accidents, as well as reduce the need for people to drive long distances. 

Manufacturers have been testing self-driving cars for a few years now, and some features are already being made available to the public. However, these driverless vehicles raise questions regarding state regulations and accident liability. 

The Risks of Self-Driving Cars

The main problems with self-driving cars are their significant reliance on computer programming and software as well as the absence of human control. A significant issue that must be addressed is who should be held accountable in an accident when a self-driving vehicle is confronted with something that’s not within its programming. A perfect example of this is the trolley problem, which is an ethical, hypothetical dilemma that entails making a difficult decision in which the given options all result in third-party harm. 

In this case, it may be hard to determine which party should be held liable, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident and the legal standard. For instance: 

  • If negligence is purely the standard, and the self-driving car was developed to conduct tasks that are reasonably expected, which are tasks that it was programmed to do, the car’s programmer won’t probably be at fault, as long as the incident was unexpected. 
  • If strict liability were the standard, the manufacturer would be held liable for the accident regardless of foreseeability. 

There are also significant concerns about privacy and driverless cars, particularly regarding the driving information that the cars store. Likewise, security may also be a concern since malicious hackers could possibly hack into the cars and take control of them. 

Unclear Laws on Self-Driving Cars

Congress has still not been able to enact uniform laws regarding the testing and deployment of driverless vehicles. This has led to some states enacting their own rules, and these involve varying degrees of liability on owners and manufacturers of self-driving cars. In most states, the manufacturers assume liability for accidents caused by the car’s automated driving system. For example, if the system’s negligent actions result in any kind of accident, the manufacturer will be at fault for that negligence and assumes legal liability.  

In general, however, if you’ve sustained an injury during an accident involving a driverless vehicle, your legal actions against the vehicle’s owner and/or manufacturer may vary based on the state where the accident happened. 

Injured by a Self-Driving Car? The Personal Injury Lawyers of Slappey & Sadd in Georgia Can Help

Because driverless or automated driving technology is still relatively new and not even legal in most states, the laws surrounding its use are also still being debated upon and created. But if you’ve been injured by a self-driving car, you may be entitled to compensation. Schedule a free evaluation of your case with one of our Georgia personal injury attorneys today. You can use our online contact form or call us at 888-474-9616. 


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