Driverless cars have been a hot topic in recent times with companies like Tesla, Apple and Google at the forefront in creating the car of the future. An issue that frequently comes up however is how the legal system will be able to adopt to such technological changes.
Not that the law hasn’t kept up with drastic changes of technology previously but driverless cars bring up complicated issues of liability when injury or death is involved.
In a recent report released by the American Association for Justice’s, Driven to Safety: Robot Cars and the Future of Liability, outlines the possible solutions when accidents may occur. What it doesn’t address however is protection for the consumer which will be the responsibility of the civil justice system to adequately compensate those who have been involved in an accident with driverless cars.
Humans are the main cause of car crashes with the fatal five; drink driving, fatigue driving, distracted driving, no seat belt and speeding, being linked to fatal accidents. Already this year in Queensland there have been 47 fatalities on the road but with the introduction of driverless cars this could significantly diminish that number.
Technology however has proven not to be 100% fault free and with possible malfunctions causing accidents the question arises as to who will be made liable. The manufacturer, the person in the vehicle or maybe the technological fault cannot be assigned to either?
With people not even taking the wheel and with the rise of ride sharing, more people probably not even owning cars, it would not make sense to put the blame on humans but instead on the product.
Right now the technology is still being tested and until the proposed release of driverless cars in 2020 it can be difficult to predict where the legal system is headed.