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Liability in self-driving car crashes uncertain

Illinois residents may be well aware that one of the reasons commonly put forward as to a benefit of autonomous vehicles is the potential to reduce or even eliminate vehicle accidents. With the large majority of crashes attributed to human error per some research, this makes sense. However, it has not yet been conclusively proven that rolling out self-driving cars on the roads will actually prevent wrecks from occurring. One question now being asked is who will be liable in the event that an accident does happen?

The recent incident in Arizona in which a self-driving vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian provides perhaps a classic case-in-point regarding this question. Multiple companies with technologies deployed in autonomous vehicles are said to have quickly claimed their lack of culpability for the accident. It is not known who the family of the pedestrian may request compensation from if they were so inclined.

Also fuzzy at this time are the rules and laws surrounding the development and deployment of these self-driving vehicles. Every state is currently allowed to make its own guidelines and many groups are urging that innovation be encouraged which in many ways means regulations should be minimal at best. This may well put human lives at risk in the process.

While it seems there is a long way to go in ensuring cars ultimately meant to improve safety really do that, people in Illinois who are involved in crashes with these vehicles might want to talk with an attorney to learn how to protect themselves.

Source: Fast Company, "Who's Making Sure That Self-Driving Cars Are Safe?," Ruth Reader, March 27, 2018

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