When driverless cars crash, who gets the blame and pays the damages?

That's the name of this Washington Post article by Ashley Halsey III. Among other things, Halsey discusses the research of law professor Bryant Smith, who has written Automated Driving and Product Liabilitywhich Halsey calls "the most definitive public legal research to date on autonomous cars." Halsey identifies seven basic insights from Smith's research:

●There will be a shift from driver liability to product liability, making the automotive industry the primary liability stakeholders.

●When manufacturers imply their automated systems are at least as safe as a human driver, they may face a misrepresentation suit in cases that contradict that expectation.

●The argument that an automated system performed unreliably will be central to personal-injury claims.

●A key question in litigation will be whether a human driver or a comparable automated system would have performed better than the automated system in question.

●Another key question: Could a reasonable change in a vehicle’s automated system have prevented the crash?

●There could be a higher standard for automated vehicles. Smith cites a hypothetical case in which two cars collide at an intersection. One of the cars ran a stop sign, but it might be argued that systems in the other car should have recognized that the first car was going so fast that it would not stop at the sign. So, should that car share blame for the crash?

●In the shift from driver liability to product liability, plaintiffs would pursue significant injury claims and usually recover less, but if they prevail, they would receive higher damages. That’s largely because an unprecedented level of data on the cause of the crash will be stored in the vehicles’ computers, virtually replacing the post-crash investigation by a police officer who didn’t witness the incident.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *