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Driverless Cars and Your Legal Rights

driverless-cars-editThey are all over the news. They have already hit the road. The big tech giants from Apple to Google to Uber have invested heavily in their use. Driverless cars are here to stay. What’s more, the companies investing in these technologies have also developed and tested driverless freights trucks. The downside to this exciting technology rests in its potential for accidents. A handful of driverless car accidents have already been reported in California. So, this begs the question:

What are your rights if you are injured in an accident caused by a driverless car?

Given the present status of the law, if you are injured and a driverless car causes the collision, you have the right to be fully compensated for the same elements of damage that you are otherwise entitled to as if you were in a traditional car accident. This compensation, among other things, includes: medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement. And in the case of a loss of life, the elements of a Wrongful Death case remain the same: loss of consortium, loss of society and loss of economic support. Despite the similarities in recovery for driverless auto accident victims, these cases will vary greatly in the manner in which they are handled because establishing “proof of negligence” will be a much more challenging task for any lawyer, especially a lawyer who is not competent in product liability and automobile collision litigation.

In the typical driverless car scenario, the owner of the vehicle is not in control of the vehicle at all. In fact, some of the current models do not even have steering wheels or foot pedals. For example, the fleet of driverless cars Google plans to put on the street will have no steering wheels thereby eliminating a drivers ability to maneuver the vehicle. Traditional auto accident law, however, is based around the concept of driver error.” Therefore, if no driver is at fault for your accident, who will compensate you for your injuries?

… you have the right to be fully compensated…

In order to establish liability in these types of cases, so that injured parties can get compensated for their injuries, it has never been more important to hire the right lawyer for an injury case. The right law firm armed requires years of expertise, significant resources to retain qualified experts to establish complicated engineering analyses of accident cause, and the willingness to try cases unless fair compensation is paid by the responsible carrier.

Without human driver error as a focus of litigation, your attorney must be capable of assessing whether a driverless accident occurred due to software failure, hardware failure or defective machinery. Legal experts predict the current Product Liability framework will be able to handle the impending litigation. The question remains: Which law firms will invest the time, expertise and resources to handle these type of cases which will certainly cost significantly more to prepare for trial and have a lower chance of success at trial. Under Product Liability law, a manufacturer is held responsible when its products cause injury to person or property. Product liability suits usually cite several theories of liability including, but not limited to, strict liability, negligence, misrepresentation and breach of warranty.

Emerging fields of law require lawyers to pull knowledge from several areas of the law. Driverless auto accident litigation will be no different. Accordingly, your lawyer must understand the complexity of product liability law along with the legal and factual intricacies of traditional auto accident law. This is why you want to hire a law firm with expertise in both product liability and auto accidents. Such a combination of expertise is rare at a law firm because most firms lack the infrastructure to handle both areas of the law. GWC is equipped with almost 40 years of experience in both fields. And as Chicago’s largest injury law firm, GWC has the manpower and resources to handle the most complicated, time-consuming litigation to ensure that your clients are treated fairly and compensated in accordance with the law.

If the unthinkable happens one day, and you are injured in an accident involving a driverless vehicle, or any other kind of serious personal injury matter, contact GWC.