How autonomous cars may change the type of claims filed

New York motorists who have been following news regarding autonomous vehicles likely know that several prototypes have already hit the roadways. While the technology in these vehicles may make them more safe by taking human drivers out of the equation and reducing the number of traffic accidents, it could also have an impact on the different types of claims that may arise.

When an accident is caused by a driver who was impaired, distracted or speeding, the liability for the losses incurred by an injured victim is usually fairly clear. If an autonomous vehicle causes a car accident due to software fatigue or a malfunction, however, a product liability claim may be more appropriate than a personal injury claim. In these cases, the parties on the hook for damages could be the manufacturer of the vehicle or the software developer. Subcontractors who were also involved in building or designing the vehicle could also be responsibile.

Auto theft claims may also rise. Autonomous cars run on software and code which can potentially be hacked. Terrorism is also another cause for concern, as a person could hack into the software and remotely operate the vehicle with the intention to cause harm to others.

When a self-driving car is in an accident that causes a serious injury to an occupant of another vehicle, an attorney representing that occupant could have several lines of inquiry to pursue. Some autonomous vehicles allow the driver to make decisions, which could lead to the motorist bearing financial responsibility. In other cases, it could have been a software failure, perhaps resulting in the manufacturer or developer being liable for the victim's losses.

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