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Self-Driving Cars and Personal Injury

The rising prevalence of self-driving car technology has raised questions for many legal experts. Personal injury cases that are initiated by car accidents center around accountability. So how do you support the rights of victims of driverless car accidents when there is no liable driver?

What Are Autonomous Vehicles?

Self-driving cars are growing in popularity as the technology becomes more advanced. Companies such as Google and Tesla are already piloting these cars on the roads – and accidents are already happening. In fact, a self-driving car operated by Uber killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona in March 2018.

These vehicles involve varying levels of autonomy, ranked from Level 0 (normal cars operated by humans) to Level 5 (completely autonomous in every situation). According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are no Level 5 cars legally operating on United States roads. However, partially autonomous vehicles could be available to the public within a few years.

Florida Laws on Self-Driving Cars

Florida is one of 29 states that has enacted legislation related to self-driving vehicles. The laws, passed in 2012, declared the state’s intent to allow autonomous vehicle testing, development, and operation on state public roads. In addition, Florida does not prohibit or regulate the testing of this technology on public roads.

Additional legislation passed in 2016 expands the operation rights of autonomous vehicles. The state also eliminated requirements related to the presence of a driver in these cars. Despite the risks that these vehicles pose to the public, Florida supports vehicle development and operation.

As of now, legislation on self-driving cars is more research-based than safety-focused. At the federal level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are conducting research to regulate self-driving vehicles and enhance their safety on the road.

Liability in Autonomous Vehicle Crashes

Determining liability in self-driving vehicle collisions may need to rely on the following factors:

  • The vehicle’s level of autonomy
  • The specific capabilities of the vehicle
  • Potential manufacturing issues
  • Potential programming issues
  • The presence of a driver in the vehicle
  • State legislation related to autonomous vehicles

Currently, some legal experts believe that the liability will rest on the driver in cases involving any vehicle at a Level 2 or below. For Level 3 vehicles, the waters start to become murky. This is because these vehicles handle safety-critical operations but require driver intervention in some scenarios. However, Level 4 and 5 vehicles may involve manufacturer and tech company liability.

Contact Ginnis & Krathen, P.A.

If you suffer injuries from an autonomous vehicle, you may wonder what your legal options are. The uncertain liability can make these cases intimidating. However, you should seek assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney from Ginnis & Krathen, P.A. Our lawyers have experience handling multiple types of personal injury cases, making our firm well equipped to handle the complexities of self-driving car accidents.

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