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Will self driving cars put car accident lawyers out of business

Self-driving cars will not magically put car accident lawyers out of business as there are levels of liability in the case of a car accident. 

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There was a time when we thought that the wheel was the epitome of our invention. But as human beings learned more and more about their surroundings, the technological revolution gained momentum. Driverless cars are the new gift of human excellence. The idea of self-driving cars still seems magical to a lot of people, especially those who have been in an accident. 

According to a survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, almost 95% of car accidents are due to human negligence. This includes inattention, distractions, driving fast, and human errors. An automated vehicle will not be bound by any of these human incompetencies so, the number of accidents will be drastically brought down. 

Self-driving cars will impact a lot of businesses, and lawyering agencies is one of them. This brings us to a very commonly asked question: Will self-driving cars put car accident lawyers out of business?

Regulations concerning a Self-Driving Car

The first thing we need to understand is the regulations surrounding a self-driving car, as there are certain levels of automation that come into play.

  • Level 0 (No Automation): In these cars, the driver is in full control of the vehicle. These are your standard, run-of-the-mill cars.
  • Level 1 (Driver Assistance): Most cars like BMW provide some function-specific automation like Active Cruise Control, Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Brake Activation. 
  • Level 2 (Partly Automated Cars): These cars have functions like Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Traffic Jam Assistant. They can accelerate and brake automatically, making it a semi-autonomous vehicle. 
  • Level 3 (Highly Automated Cars): In these cars, drivers can relinquish full control of the vehicle as long as they are available to take over controls within a few seconds of warning time. They are highly useful in motorways and areas of less traffic. 
  • Level 4 (Fully Self Driving Cars): This is a fully self-driving car with total control of all the safety-critical driving functions and road map. Drivers don’t need to be fit to drive and don’t even need a license. 

Because of such a huge variation in these cars, lawmakers still don’t agree on the level of responsibility a driver should have, and thus have not been able to define the pertaining laws. 

Will There Be A Court Case?

In March 2018, a self-driving Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. The upshot of this accident is that as long as vehicles don’t become fully automated, those sitting in the driver’s seat or monitoring the vehicle will be held accountable. 

In a typical road accident, a driver is held responsible for the injuries caused by the collision. In some states, even if the car is highly automated, the car’s owner may still be held accountable as long as the vehicle was being driven by his consent. The general public has access to only level 3 automated cars, and in this case, you still need accident attorneys to help you in case of an accident. 

So, as long as the laws regarding automated cars don’t become clear, you are going to need a lawyer to handle a court case in case of an accident. 

Who Will Be Liable In Case Of An Accident?

Self-driving cars will not magically put car accident lawyers out of business as there are levels of liability in the case of a car accident. 

  • Human Liability: Under this case, cars owner may be liable, if they can take over the car in case of an emergency
  • Testing Company’s Liability: Self-driving cars have still not been perfected to a point where they can make emergency adjustments to avoid sudden and unexpected danger. In this case, a testing company may be held liable for an accident. 
  • Manufacturer’s Liability: With regard to a manufacturer’s liability, most states have deemed the automated driving system to be the “driver” of the car, and therefore the manufacturer is held accountable in case of an accident. Still, to pursue the case, they need to prove a manufacturing fault may have led to the accident. 

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