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Legal liability with self-driving cars

Legal experts from Pennsylvania and around America have been watching the development of the self-driving car with great interest. This new technology, currently allowed to be tested in only four states, shows the promise of utterly transforming America's roads and the motoring experience.

The manufacturers of autonomous vehicles have passed significant legislative hurdles in seeking to to bring their cars to market. They have demonstrated amply the safety of their products, providing countless road tests that show that self-driving cars will operate on the open almost completely without error. As driver error accounts for about 94 percent of all accidents, this will represent a significant increase in safety. However, there still remain the 6 percent of all accidents that are not caused by driver error. If, through whatever combination of circumstances, an autonomous vehicle were to cause an accident on the roads of Pennsylvania, then it is not immediately clear what liability the so-called driver of the vehicle would have. After all, they would not be any way in control of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

The major manufacturers of autonomous vehicles have stepped forward to confront this problem directly. They have all agreed to accept the liability for any accident or incident that stems from the operation of their vehicles, although it remains unclear if this will change when these vehicles become more ubiquitous.

Currently, it is usually possible to ascertain the cause of a car accident. The attorney for a person who has been injured in one can often determine fault by reviewing the accident investigation report and other evidence. If it can be demonstrated that the accident was the result of the negligence of another driver, then the attorney may deem it advisable to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the injured victim seeking damages from the at-fault motorist.

Source Web Link: Cheat Sheet, "If an Autonomous Car Crashes, Who's At Fault?", James Sapienza, Oct. 17, 2015

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