Go to Homepage
Blog
330 East Kilbourn Avenue, Suite 1170
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

EmailEMAIL US

Phone414-271-1440

Responsibility for Self-Driving Car Crashes

Posted on in Car Accidents

Wisonsin personal injury attorney, Wisonsin car crash lawyer, Milwaukee car crash attorneyAlthough self-driving cars sound like the stuff of science fiction, they may be closer to becoming a reality than people think. Google has been testing and improving its fleet of autonomous cars for years, and the CEO of Nissan recently predicted that automated cars could be available to consumers by 2020. The rapid development of these vehicles means that they are still operating in something of a legal grey area, and open questions about a variety of issues. One of the most commonly asked of these questions is who bears responsibility in the event of a self-driving car crash.

The Problem

The problem with assigning liability in self-driving car crashes is that there are two potential options, and they both come with their own issues. First, the law could simply hold the owner liable in cases where their self-driving car crashes. However, this does not seem satisfying. After all, the person who owns the car has no control over what it does. It would be similar to a car's owner today loaning their car to someone else and had to bear the responsibility for any accidents that the person may cause.

The alternative is to put the liability on the manufacturer of the car. This makes some sense because it would be a lot like the product liability lawsuits that people can already bring today. The car's manufacturer would be the one responsible for making sure it was safe because they are really the only ones who can control the cars behavior. Yet, it is not so clear that this is actually a good idea.

Holding manufacturers liable for the crashes of their self-driving cars would massively increase the potential liability that they bear. They would be responsible for paying for any damage that their fleet of cars causes. This could stifle the development of these sorts of cars. Additionally, the cars would likely also need maintenance or updates, which would be the owner's responsibility. It would be odd to hold manufacturers liable for crashes if those crashes were caused by poor maintenance.

Potential Solutions

There are several potential solutions to these problems. One suggestion is that rather than selling the self-driving cars, manufacturers could run them as a transit system. This would allow them to keep better control over the cars, and eliminate concerns about the cars' owners failing to properly maintain them. Alternatively, the law could also treat self-driving cars the way it does corporations, giving people the opportunity to have their cars carry their own insurance in case they cause an accident.

 Although driverless cars may not yet be a reality, the law is constantly changing to keep up with new technologies. If you have been involved in a traffic accident, contact an experienced Milwaukee personal injury attorney today.

Back to Top