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Autonomous cars and insurance liability

It may be several more years before autonomous cars become commonplace in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, but once they are, accidents are expected to decrease. The causes of the crashes that do occur are also expected to change, and this will lead to major changes in the auto insurance industry as well.

Investigations into motor vehicle accidents usually examine issues such as which driver ran a red light or was distracted. When self-driving cars become prevalent, it is likely that any accidents that happen will result from software malfunctions or some other type of manufacturing defect. This means that liability will shift from drivers to contractors, manufacturers and software developers.

It is also anticipated that since manufacturers and software developers are likely to have a good deal of money, there might be an increase in product liability claims. Autonomous cars may also be vulnerable to hackers. Overall, the insurance industry is likely to shrink in the years ahead once self-driving cars are a common sight on the road.

The most common cause of car accidents is human error. This could include behavior such as driving while texting or talking on a cell phone, speeding and driving while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even a driver who only takes his or her eyes off the road for just a second may be distracted enough to cause an accident. Should this occurs, that driver could be liable. An accident may cause catastrophic injuries, and an injured person who receives only a small offer of compensation from the insurance company might want to file a lawsuit against the responsible driver. If the lawsuit is successful, the compensation may help cover the injured party's medical expenses, the cost of a vehicle repair or replacement and lost wages.

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