How Will Lawyers Handle Accidents Involving An Autonomous Car?

by Terry Bryant

The age of the autonomous car is approaching, and faster than most people realize. Google and Tesla have both been aggressive in promoting the technology to the public, and Google plans on having 10 million self-driving vehicles on the road by 2020. Though they have proven to be mostly safe during testing so far, there remains major questions about their long-term safety and about the legal implications of injury law. These questions have to be sorted out soon, as there is already a law in Texas that would permit self-driving vehicles.

In general, lawyers expect that any accident involving an autonomous car will include product liability and standard traffic regulations. For example, if another driver rear ends a self-driving vehicle, that driver will be at fault. If, however, the self-driving vehicle suffers a software malfunction and causes a crash, then the software creator or vehicle manufacturer may be responsible for defective products. This is also the concern with any security holes in Google’s or Tesla’s software, as exploits could lead to unpredictable behavior. Both companies insist that this isn’t a major concern, but it remains to be seen whether or not that will be the case.

Over the next decade or so, self-driving vehicles will become a topic that lawmakers and enforcers have to confront. A personal injury attorney will be among the experts with the greatest insight into the technology’s legal ramifications, and can help anyone involved in a crash with a self-driving vehicle.