Driverless Cars: Crashes, Damages, and Liability
Articles,  Blog

Driverless Cars: Crashes, Damages, and Liability


What are driverless cars? Some people call them driverless, some of
them call them autonomous vehicles. Ultimately, an autonomous vehicle is one that
drives itself without any help from the driver. The National Highway and Safety Administration
has come up with stages for driverless cars. In zero, is the driver does everything. You get to one and two, some functions are
taken over by the vehicle. Two, is where a lot of vehicles are today. They may have a program that allows you to
set a speed and the car will go that speed. When you get to the third stage, there are
more and more things where the car is helping, like telling you if you’re about to hit something, telling you if you’re going out of your lane. The fourth stage, where we’re not there yet,
the car would be totally automatic, no help from the driver, within certain geographical
areas. Five, is the ultimate step, and there the
driverless car will go anywhere. What happens today when there’s an automobile
crash between two cars? The law is pretty easy, it looks at fault. Sometimes both cars are at fault and in a
lot of states they have what’s called comparative fault, and the jury decides who’s the most
at fault and damages are apportioned. So, if somebody is 90% at fault they pay 90%
of the damages. The fault damage rules are very generous because
they’re based on fault of an individual. A person not only gets everything that they
lost all their economic losses, their wages, their medical costs, they also get damages
for something called “pain and suffering.” I would leave out a part of all this if
I didn’t get to claims that are brought against automobile manufacturers. So there’s a certain duty on the part of automobile
manufacturers to protect passengers in event of a crash. So if a car is hit from the back at 20 miles
an hour, if a steering wheel doesn’t work, if a brake doesn’t work, the people who live
or relatives of those who died, can bring a claim against the manufacturer. Well what happens if there are autonomous
vehicles. Will the rules change? Well, the fault of the driver suddenly becomes
irrelevant, doesn’t it? In a true autonomous vehicle, the person in
the vehicle will have no control over it, just the way they don’t over a- a bus if they’re
sitting in it or a train if they’re sitting in it. So, responsibility then will have to be allocated
some place. If it’s all thrust on the manufacturer, I’m
not sure that’s a good idea with our current damage system. If your liability is too high, too big, too
hot, it’s going to have a negative effect, slowing down the process of producing these
vehicles, chilling innovation. Some believe we just
can keep the same old tort rules uh, based on fault, based on defect, but I believe there’s
going to need to be change. Certainly when you hit the so-called phase
five, when autonomous vehicles occupy the majority of vehicles on the road. And, some type of funding needs to be taking
place, and some alteration of the damage rules.

5 Comments

  • BrotherWoody1

    "Unprecedented"? Hardly. In the above example, it was a clear case of manufacturer's liability. The manufacturer had a duty (inter alia) to NOT hit pedestrians in a cross walk. The duty was not fulfilled. The pedestrian died. Maximum damages. It's "an unprecedented liability challenge" for the manufacturer but NOT for tort law. Wackiest opinion yet from the FS.

  • Just for Fun

    We DON'T HAVE yet autonomous cars nobody has. Autonomous cars won't be a reality before 2040 and even then they would be lvl 4 max. For lvl 5 fully autonomous vehicles we have to expect them after 2050 not before. So stop thirsty hype about driveless autonomous car , even Waymo isn't a true lvl 5 It's almost lvl 4.

  • Terry Tater

    This thing just defined socialism for the rich…. Only in America, would somebody consider socialist investment for private business owners.. Cause its our responsibility to cover the risk of private business lol.. .. Industry shills and sellouts..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *