As automakers begin to reveal their prototypes for self-driving vehicles, it is safe to assume that they will hit the market - and our roads - soon. In fact, prototypes have been approved for testing in certain geographic areas of the United States.
Autonomous vehicles will most likely bring about changes on highways and local streets throughout the country. Proponents say that roads will be safer because self-driving cars will not be distracted, reckless or intoxicated - but they won't eliminate car crashes entirely. When a crash occurs with a self-driving car, who is at fault? How will insurance adjusters determine liability?
A recent Claims Journal article lists the following as potential changes related to autonomous vehicles and car accidents:
- Shifted focus for crash investigations - The investigations of crash sites will shift from determining actions taken by each driver to pinpointing software glitches or malfunctions in collision-avoidance software.
- Increase in product liability claims - Instead of auto insurance claims against the other driver, attention will most likely turn to manufacturers and software developers if autonomous vehicles are found to be at fault.
- Decrease in the number of auto insurance adjusters - If driverless cars reduce the number of accidents, as predicted, the need for insurance adjusters will also decrease. This will be offset by the demand for more product liability adjusters.
Given the increased complexities that will be associated with automated vehicle accidents, the need for legal advice and guidance will become even more vital. As with any accident, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to advocate for your best interests after an accident.