Liability in Self-Driving Vehicle Crashes
Self-driving passenger cars made headlines years ago when they first were road tested, and in the foreseeable future will likely become commonplace. The same technology used in these cars is now being tested on tractor-trailers. A self-driving truck manufacturer, Otto, has been conducting trial runs in Ohio. In October 2016, an Otto truck made the first commercial shipment by a self-driving truck when it drove 120 miles to deliver a shipment of beer.
This is the first of many trips Otto trucks will make during its test program in Ohio. As part of the test program, a human operator will ride in the passenger cab to intervene if need be.
Safety of Self-Driving Cars and Trucks
Self-driving cars are advertised as being safer than traditional cars because they eliminate human error. However, self-driving cars do make errors. In fact, there have been several accidents involved with autonomous cars. One involving a Tesla killed the motorist riding in the Tesla.
There is not yet a consensus about who is liable for damages in the event of a car accident caused by a self-driving car. This is expected to change in the coming years, as cars with some or total self-driving capabilities become more popular. It is estimated that there will be 3.5 million self-driving vehicles by 2025, and 4.5 million by 2030, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
It may be possible that the makers of self-driving cars can be held responsible for creating a faulty system under a legal theory called product liability. A product liability suit alleges that a manufacturer sold a defective product.
Who Will Be Liable for Accidents Caused by Self-Driving Tractor-Trailers?
It is similarly unknown under what circumstances a manufacturer of an autonomous big rig will be held responsible. Trucks pose a special threat because of their size and weight. Trucks also have to adhere to special federal and state regulations. Currently, there are no regulations about self-driving trucks, although we expect that to change.
Attorneys for accident victims injured by a self-driving truck will likely consider a product liability theory of recovery. Not only could this mean a greater chance of recovery, but it will also keep this new technology of self-driving trucks safer for the general public.
Contact a San Jose, CA Truck Accident Lawyer
The attorneys at our law firm pride themselves on staying up to date on cutting-edge legal issues. There will undoubtedly be truck accidents involving driverless tractor trailers. When this happens, you can trust that our attorneys will know how to best argue for our clients.Contact the San Jose 18-wheeler accident attorneys at Jachimowicz Pointer, Attorneys at Law, Inc. by calling 408-246-5500 for a free case evaluation.
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