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Driverless vehicles: Who faces the blame in a crash?

Technology has a way of changing the way the world works, and the law can be affected by those changes. One of the newest technological advances is the driverless vehicle, which has room for a driver but does not necessarily need to have someone drive it manually.

What happens in a case where a person is hit by one of these cars, though? Who can be held accountable for the injuries? Should the driver still be monitoring the road, or can the vehicle really get the job done on its own?

Self-driving cars and autonomous technology are generally good. In fact, KPMG has predicted a drop in the number of accidents taking place by 80 percent by 2040. That's great for people who are worried about getting into car accidents, but what happens when one does take place?

Insurance agencies may have to shift their coverage to the technology that controls the vehicle. In many states, a driver will still be required behind the wheel, even though the car is doing the driving. That person could be responsible for taking over if the vehicle isn't performing as expected, and he or she could also be the one held liable in an accident. If you're hit in a crash with one of these vehicles, liability could be shared between the driver and auto manufacturer.

If a vehicle is in autopilot mode, the person driving it and anyone else injured in a crash could potentially sue the auto maker for the errors in programming that led to a crash. Instead of going after a negligent driver, the shift could be to a product liability lawsuit.

Source: TechRepublic, "When your driverless car crashes, who will be responsible? The answer remains unclear," Hope Reese, Sep. 07, 2016

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