The future is upon us, and more and more companies are testing out versions of autonomous vehicles, more commonly known as self-driving cars. Technology evangelists promise enormous benefits to society from this advance, helping with everything from commute times to climate change.

Skeptics worry about the dangers, pointing to the risk of hacking, and wondering who, precisely, will be liable when a self-driving car hurts a person or damages their property in a car accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) oversees safety requirements for America’s roadways. As cars have become increasingly computerized, with extremely advanced safety features, NHTSA has designated six tiers of automation, ranging from zero, where the driver is fully in control and there is no automation, to five, which is a fully automated vehicle that can operate with or without a human.

In between, the levels reflect various automated safety features, like lane departure warnings and lane centering assist.

Self-Driving Cars and Accident Liability

As those fully automated, level five vehicles hit the roadways in greater and greater numbers, it is the automobile manufacturers who will take on an increasing liability load. If the programming and automation in a self-driving car fail and cause injury or damage, the case will be treated like a product liability case.

Auto makers will be under enormous pressure to design and program cars that are safe and reliable, and failures will not only be a cause for legal action, but a serious public relations problem.

The thing to keep in mind is that from the perspective of car makers and government regulators, the features leading us to full automation of driving are all present to improve car safety.

As car makers develop better and better tools to detect blind spots, keep you in your lane, prevent collisions, and brake for emergencies, the line between driving and self-driving gets thinner and thinner.

How to Handle a Car Accident

Whatever kind of vehicle is involved, a car accident is a big deal. The best way to protect yourself and recover maximum damages is to work with an experienced car accident attorneyin your state.

Do your research and find the best you can.  It’ll pay off at the end of the day.

Louis Gertler is a Partner with the Gertler Law Firm in New Orleans, Louisiana. The law firm represents plaintiffs in personal injury matters and focuses on succession planning as well.  The information above is not legal advice and we urge you to consult with a local attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Gertler Law Firm
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New Orleans, LA 70112
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