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Expert Witnesses Explain Potential Legal Issues with Autonomous Vehicles

The future has arrived, and it is showing the public that it includes vehicles that drive themselves. However, there are various issues that these cars may raise because of injuries, accidents and similar concerns. Many problems with these types of advancements in the world deal with how technology keeps outpacing the law, law enforcement and keeping legal matters settled.

The age of the lawsuit brings with it the possibility that any action that affects someone negatively could lead to litigation. This includes autonomous vehicles that have no driver. When there is no one behind the wheel, legal questions arise that revolve around who is responsible for damages if owed.

Implementation of self-driving vehicles has not yet been fully realized, but these cars have been tested and designed with various factors in mind since 2005. The concept was first initiated many decades ago with partially self-driving capabilities around for several years prior to this. However, with the advancements in technology, networking and electronic connections, the vision has started to become a reality. The legal issues that tie these automobiles in conflict and battle are extensive if someone has been in a collision or injured with one. However, because autonomous vehicles are still new since 2015, there are a vast number of legal problems that have not been addressed or solved as of yet.

The Rise of Self-Driving Vehicles

After the first few automobiles were capable of driving without someone guiding the car himself or herself, a line of these vehicles has been manufactured ready for sale. This could mean that all roadways, highways, interstates and even country roads could see an autonomous car leading someone to his or her destination. These changes in transportation technology are advancing faster each decade, and after 2016, the roadways may change to ensure these methods of transportation are implemented for the vast majority of drivers and passengers. However, before this is possible, the laws must adapt to the alterations to the roadways. With this, certain aspects of these situations must be understood.

Various benefits have been outlined by agencies that report on the driverless vehicle phenomenon. The primary advantage of having no driver is that these vehicles are not subject to human deficiencies such as falling asleep, distractions, intoxication and similar matters. Checking a cell phone or changing the radio do not affect persons in an autonomous vehicle. This decreases the possibility of a collision significantly to the point that the possibility of self-driving vehicles becoming part of mainstream roadways has initiated manufacturing. Sensory and detecting features are more advanced than human senses that may be slow to respond, and this also greatly assists in reducing and eliminating possible risks of accidents transpiring.

Liability Concerns

One major concern regarding autonomous vehicles is that at some point, it has been projected that a collision will occur, and then the matter is raised about who is responsible, what is done in these situations and how to proceed until the concern is resolved. Certain companies that are manufacturing the self-driving cars have purchased extensive insurance policies that cover the vehicle and all damages related to its driving. This may ensure a remedy to various issues if a crash occurs. However, injuries to those within the autonomous vehicle may still be covered by the insurance of the driver with the other car.

Product liability is a concern raised by experts in the scientific and legal communities involving self-driving vehicles as well. This is because it is still possible that defective parts or materials affect a vehicle to lead to an accident. This would mean that causation of the accident must be proven to be affected by the defects. This then leads to the need for expert witnesses to explain these complications, the autonomous features and who is responsible for paying out for damages owed. Various aspects of these vehicles must be explained such as design, engineering and materials. Fabrication of the plans and parts may also affect the case due to how the vehicle is put together and what software is used.

The Role and Use of an Expert Witness

Because liability, legal conflicts and injuries all may still be involved in autonomous vehicle travels, an expert witness that understands these aspects fully is usually needed. He or she has the experience in the manufacturing of the car, knowledge of what software is used and how and the legal aspects of a collision and reconstructing the incident in certain situations. This all assists the judge or panel of jury members in deliberating with full understanding of the incident.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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