Cars That Drive Themselves: Licensed to Drive

Google acquired a license to drive their “autonomous vehicles,” cars that drive themselves. The self-driving car concept started a few years ago and was only recently granted approval in Nevada.


The self-driving vehicles were designed to help save people time—something that all new technology seems to claim. Aside from saving time, the automated cars could bring mobility to disabled, blind or elderly people who are no longer able to drive themselves and who may not have a driver to rely on.


If an autonomous vehicle causes an accident and injures someone or damages property, who is at fault? In a traditional traffic accident (traditional meaning when human drivers are involved and not a computerized one), the at-fault driver’s insurance is tapped for auto repair costs and medical treatments. In traditional traffic accidents, it’s possible that the at-fault driver may not have insurance—which means victims will need to file a claim through their uninsured motorist coverage. Should an autonomous vehicle injure a passenger or pedestrian, the victim should find a personal injury lawyer who will review each possibility for compensation:


  • The owner of the autonomous vehicle. In traditional traffic accidents, if someone borrows your car and injures someone with it, you can be held liable even if you weren’t in the car. Typically a vehicle owner is legally responsible for injuries and damages caused by their vehicle—which means after their insurance policy is exhausted their personal assets can be targeted. This is on policy by policy basis and also changes in different states. The autonomous vehicle owner would be one potential party to pursue for compensation.
  • The autonomous vehicle manufacturer. Recalls of cars happen all the time. This is a test-driving phase for a brand new line of sophisticated self-driving cars, there should be more faults being found in its system now than in the future. Whether the cars are found to have faulty transmissions, sticky accelerators or bugs in the computer navigation system, the manufacturer is responsible.
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