The rise of self-driving cars, which has been pioneered in many ways by the electric car manufacturer Tesla, is a fascinating area of the law that is developing at a rapid pace. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, as long claimed that self-driving cars are safer than those operated by humans. Others, who have been involved in accidents when Tesla’s autopilot feature has allegedly malfunctioned, are not so sure. In some ways, Musk and Tesla are now putting their money where their mouth is, and have announced they will be rolling out insurance policies that take advantage of what they claim are safer driving behaviors.
Insurance is an issue that has plagued Tesla owners in the short history of the company, as they are consistently some of the most expensive vehicles on the road to insure. Musk apparently believes that the vehicles are safer than insurance underwriters give them credit for, and believes that Tesla can lower insurance premiums by issuing their own policies.
One feature that drives the insurance market, and Musk believes should lower premiums is the autopilot, or self-driving feature. Over the past few years, there has been some misunderstanding as to exactly what autopilot technology is. Quite simply, autopilot technology allows the computers in a vehicle to operate the vehicle with minimal input from the driver. Vehicle are able to stop and go on their own, maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front of them, change lanes, and exit roadways.
This amazing technology has lead some to question whether the self-driving capability alleviates drivers of their responsibilities behind the wheel. The answer is a resounding NO. Drivers in vehicles with autopilot are still responsible for the safety of their car while it is on the road. While autopilot-equipped vehicles can perform many functions generally reserved for drivers, the feature does not provide an excuse for a driver to read the newspaper, text friends, or take a nap while the vehicle is moving. We have all heard stories about drivers doing these things, but they are most certainly illegal.
A similar question arises in autopilot vehicle accidents as to whether the driver of the autopilot-equipped vehicle may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of their own vehicle. In some cases, the driver may be able to make such a claim. Cars are equipped with so many computers today that it is often worth investigating whether it was the failure of a vehicle’s internal systems that caused a car accident.
What Should You Do if You are Injured by a self-driving vehicle?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with a self-driving vehicle, a Massachusetts product liability attorney or car accident lawyer can help you understand your options. Our attorneys can help people injured in product liability cases or car accidents through every part of their case. We will dedicate our firm’s significant resources to getting injured clients top dollar for their cases. Contact the car accident attorneys and product liability lawyers at Mirick O’Connell today if you or a loved one has been injured by a self-driving vehicle. We will provide a free and confidential consultation about your case.