California, a state that has already been in the news for legalizing marijuana, is at it again. They are teaming up with Google, trying to get more drivers off the road. However, while most states’ attempt to lessen the amount of drivers on the road is geared for traffic purposes; California is trying to improve the safety of the individual. In comes Google with the driverless car.
Google and California have teamed up to get these cars on the road, thinking that a computer driving a car will ultimately be safer than a human being driving a car. Out with the steering wheel and the brakes, in with the hard drive. These vehicles are known as an autonomous car. They are capable of fulfilling the human transportation capabilities of a traditional car while sensing its environment and navigating without any human input. They use radar, GPS, and computer vision to interpret and identify appropriate navigation paths, obstacles, signage, and traffic on the road.
The question we must ask, whenever new technology is introduced to the marketplace, is does it actually make us safer? What would happen if there was a malfunction in the car? One could imagine the product liability that Google will be faced with. Or what happens when the driverless car is at fault for hitting another vehicle, and injuring another. Is that person going to sue Google? Or the “non-driver?” Will a jury believe that a computer is at fault? Will the “non-driver” be able to sue Google for injuries he sustained in his car, even if his car was at fault?
One can’t honestly believe that driverless car technology will spell the end of car accidents. Since there will be accidents, there will be liability. Car accidents, as well as the liability attached to those same accidents, are real barriers to the rollout of this technology. Traditionally, car accident claims are governed by the laws of that particular state. So with that, in comes the legislature, who have been grappling with the concept of driverless cars for some time now, so much so that a bill was created in Michigan. Here is what the bill says about liability:
“The manufacturer of a vehicle is not civilly liable for damages resulting from the conversion of that vehicle into an automated vehicle by another person or by the installation of equipment by another person to convert it into an automated vehicle, unless the defect alleged was present in the vehicle when it was manufactured.”
As you can see, legislature is already at it, protecting the big business, and keeping the “’non-driver” liable for the actions of his own car. In order words, before getting into a driverless car, one must decide if he or she trusts themselves or a computer more, because either way they will be vicariously liable if they were to injure another. Since this is a state law issue, a citizen of their state needs to keep a close eye on their legislature to see how they react to this issue, which will be rapidly approaching. This issue will have a far-reaching effect. Insurance companies, the lawyers and the victims. Stay tuned.
Dolman Law Group is a Personal Injury and Civil Trial firm serving victims in the state of Florida. If you have questions about your rights following a motor vehicle crash, our team is ready to step into immediate action. Our mission is to zealously represent our clients and hold negligent parties accountable. A consultation with one of our trail attorneys is always free. Please contact us at 727-451-6900.
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