What do Tesla, Uber, and Volvo all have in common? They all have self-driving vehicles. Since at least the 1920s, self-driving cars have become a thing of the present, forming from an idea to the first semi-automated car in 1977. Now, companies like Tesla have self-automated cars everywhere, spotting in every city throughout the world.
While self-driving cars a thing of the present, will they be the future for personal injury law?
This is the question personal injury lawyers ask. Personal injury lawyers specialize in car accident law and rely on manual driving cases. As self-driving cars become prevalent, the need for manual cars decreases. Arguably speaking, self-driving cars are safer. They have fast reaction times due to their technology, and unlike humans, they aren’t distracted by the environment around them.
With self-driving cars, accidents could potentially become an issue of the past. While there have been a few reported accidents caused by self-driving cars, it doesn’t compare to the millions of deaths caused by manual cars every year.
Self-driving cars are under high scrutiny, but we shouldn’t ignore the impact self-driving cars will have on the world once the world accepts its innovative technology. With that being said, how will personal injury law firms adjust?
How Safe are Self-Driving Cars?
The first thing that should be addressed is how safe are self-driving automobiles? How does one exactly stay safe from a car with no driver?
In a nutshell, self-driving cars are an evolution of the self-driving functions manual cars already had. From cruise control to auto-pilot in airplanes, self-driving is not a new concept for people. What is new is the permanent automated functions found in self-driving vehicles, and those can be dangerous.
With any piece of equipment, technology can fail. Take Apollo 13, for example. Or when our iPhones fail to cooperate with the IOS updates. The same goes for technology in cars. Thankfully, when that technology fails, humans are here to catch those mistakes. For example, if a car fails to catch another car in a blind spot, our eyes can look back in the mirror and check. But despite the potential technological flaws, one truth remains – we are still going to have self-driving vehicles out on the road as society progresses.
In reality, the questions stated above stem from the unknown, or fear. Society has been on the brink of a technological revolution, and we respond quickly to technological failures. In addition, the human mind is flawed and has more of an ability to induce an accident rather than perfected technology.
Also Read: Revealed- Are Self-Driving Cars Safer?
The Future of Personal Injury Law
Dangers, mistakes, and mishaps aside, where does personal injury law stand with this progression?
Liability and fault are placed upon an offending driver, but for self-driving cars, it seems as if the blame will shift from the driver to the vehicle or the vehicle’s company. This shift muddles the waters of negligence significantly. Will the claim be against the technology, the vehicle’s company, the manufacturer, or all three?
Once no-driver, self-driving cars dominate the roadways, it’ll be much more difficult to identify negligence. Additionally, self-driving accident cases will most likely be seen as product liability cases, and product liability takes years to litigate. The victims in those accidents won’t see compensation for years after the accident occurs.
With a driver out of the picture, it will be harder for damages to be compensated since car companies and manufacturers have highly skilled lawyers backing them up, not to mention their deep pockets.
The emergence of self-automated vehicles presents a vital question for personal injury lawyers: is this the end of the normal process of personal injury law? There have been fewer accidents on the road. With fewer wrecks, there will be fewer cases. Fewer cases can mean a declining business and the eventual downfall of the business. And maybe the entire industry. These are one of the realities lawyers will have to face when accepting self-driving cars, especially Houston car accident lawyers who get most of their cases from the busy streets of Houston.
But will it fall or will we adapt?
The transition can lead to new approaches to cases, as described above, as well as approaches to serving justice. Only time will tell, but it’s safe to say fellow personal injury lawyers should better prepare for this impending future rather than focusing on the now.