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Will Self-Driving Cars Result in More Auto Defect Cases?

The McClellan Law Firm

The traditional car accident lawsuit has long been a cornerstone of American litigation, as car crashes cause many of the most serious injuries in this country. In fact, over 2.3 million people are sent to the emergency department for motor vehicle injuries every year. As automation technology continues to improve, however, self-driving cars will become a more and more frequent sight – and experts believe that they will eventually set a new standard for our roads.

Some say self-driving cars will increase driver and passenger safety, pointing to one study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that concluded that over 94% of car crashes are caused by human error. Thus, the shift to automated and self-driving cars may signal a massive upheaval for the current legal landscape, as fault-based car accident cases may slowly be replaced by auto product liability claims.

Car Accidents vs. Product Liability

Car accident cases that do not involve product liability focus on the conduct of the drivers and others and determines whether they were negligent.  Their negligence is then compared to determine the percentage of fault of each.  This is what is called “comparative fault.”

Under comparative fault laws, determining liability in a car accident case can be complicated. Lawyers have to look carefully at the evidence and conduct of everyone involved to determine the percentage of fault likely to be assigned to each party. When there are major disagreements, the jury will decide.

However, when you have a fully self-driving car, conventional applications of comparative fault become less helpful, as there isn’t always a negligent driver to blame. In cases involving multiple self-driving cars, the most likely source of compensation for accident victims would be a product liability claim due to defects with their automated car systems.  

How Will Self-Driving Cars Change Your Case?

Product liability is an exceptionally complex area of the law. By increasing the number of product liability claims, self-driving cars may introduce new difficulties for injury victims seeking financial recovery.

Rather than focusing on fault and human error, lawyers will need to better understand the science behind each plaintiff’s claim, relying on more expert witness testimony and detailed reports from the company’s computer systems, software and algorithms. Because automobile companies retain experienced product liability attorneys, more lawyers for injured victims will have to be able to stand up against large corporations and a well-funded defense.

Ready to Fight for Your Future

At The McClellan Law Firm, we’ve already dedicated our practice to helping the victims of defective automobiles and parts. With a robust product liability practice and years of experience litigating car accidents, our injury attorneys are able to litigate self-driving car defects even before they become the norm. Our lead attorney Craig McClellan has already won hundreds of millions of dollars in major auto defect cases involving nearly every automobile manufacturer in the world, including such giants as Chrysler, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, GM, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, and Honda. We’re always ready to fight on behalf of our injured clients.

Injured in an accident? Call (619) 215-1488 for a consultation, free of charge.