The future is upon us.
We don't have the hoverboard from Back To The Future or Flying Cars from The Jetsons, but we're getting close.
Driverless cars, also known as automated cars, have been a reality since the first tests began in 2016.
There are seven companies, including Google and Tesla, that are developing automated cars.
While feelings towards automated cars range from absolute adoration to having no trust in them at all, they will soon be a part of our everyday reality.
Remember when calling someone and seeing their face on a screen while they spoke to you seemed like an impossibility?
Now everyone has a supercomputer in their pocket.
The same thing applies to automated cars. What seems outlandish right now will soon be widely adopted.
Benefits Of Driverless Cars
There are many benefits of driverless cars, but the obvious benefit is safety.
The majority of car accidents occur due to human error.
Distracted driving, falling asleep at the wheel, and drunk driving accounts for almost all car accidents.
The goal of automated cars is to remove human error.
An automated car will never be drunk, tired, or distracted.
Driverless cars will also help put a dent in rush hour traffic.
When the roadways are filled with automated cars that can talk to each other, the vehicle itself can decide which route is best to take.
Stop and go on the freeway? Your automated car will know to take the back roads instead.
They'll also be better for the environment.
A driverless car is basically software on wheels, so everything about it will be efficient, including the emissions it gives off.
Cons Of Driverless Cars
Nothing is perfect, and automated cars aren't any different.
Even though the benefits may seem incredible, they will still come with their faults.
For one, it could mean many people will be without a job.
There are already driverless 18-Wheeler trucks making deliveries.
A rise of automated cars could put Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and delivery drivers out of work.
When you use an automated car, the company that makes the software as the ability to track everything you do while you're in the car.
Privacy could be a major concern.
The company will know where you go, how long you were there, what you listened to during the trip, and so on.
The company could decide to sell the data to advertisers or use it for marketing purposes.
The cars won't be 100% safe. Especially when they first start rolling out.
There will still be humans driving other cars, and pedestrians nearby.
The potential for an accident will still be there.
There have already been deaths related to automated cars.
When there is a chance of an accident, the car is designed to respond in a way that results in the fewest lives lost.
That alone brings up a world of questions.
How does it decide who lives?
When these deaths or injuries occur in these accidents, who is at fault?
That is a question plaguing layers right now.
How Personal Injury Cases Work Now
When accidents occur involving humans, it's a pretty straightforward process.
An investigation is done at the crash site, drivers and witnesses are interviewed, any camera footage is analyzed, and someone is determined at fault.
This can happen in court, or it can be determined outside of court.
Whoever is responsible is on the hook for the damages.
Their insurance, if they have any, will step in and take care of it.
If the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, most people will have uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage on their plan that will help with the damages.
Pretty straightforward. It can be difficult at times to prove who was at fault, but there is a system in place that works.
With driverless cars, it changes the system altogether.
How It Could Work With Driverless Cars
If you're using an automated car and it's declared at fault in an accident, are you responsible?
You weren't driving it, so why should you be responsible?
How should insurance companies adjust for automated cars? Is the insurance for the driver, or is it for the car? Or both?
A law review article, titled Sue My Car, Not Me brings up product liability vs. driver liability.
Product Liability vs. Driver Liability
The article argues that if an accident occurs while the car is in driverless mode, then the manufacturer should be liable.
If the driver is in control during an accident, and the software wasn't involved in the accident, then the driver should be liable.
It seems pretty straightforward, but if it's like any other law, it most likely won't be that black and white.
There will be plenty of gray areas that lead to long and expensive legal battles.
New laws and regulations will be put into place on the state and federal level to compensate for automated cars.
Lawyers Will Still Be Necessary
Even though the point of automated cars is to make the roads safer and less crowded, it isn't going to happen overnight.
There will still be accidents, and the aftermath of the accidents likely won't be pretty.
Instead of just driver vs. driver, it will be driver vs. driver vs. auto manufacturer.
Bringing in a third party, a huge corporation none-the-less, to the situation will complicate things even further.
That's why everyone will need a skilled personal injury attorney.
You might think you can get by without a lawyer now (you shouldn't), but you definitely won't be able to fight a corporation on your own.
The auto accident lawyers at The Brown Firm are personal injury experts that are prepared for anything.
They can help you if you're involved in an accident, including one involving an automated car.
If you'd like to speak to someone at The Brown Firm, click the link below for your free consultation.