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Liability in a driverless car crash

Liability in a driverless car crash

Personal Injury Law / By

On July 1st, a bill signed into law by Florida Gov. Rick Scott paved the way for driverless vehicles to legally operate on the state’s roads and highways. While the bill’s proponents insist that such automobiles are safer than those driven by humans, accidents do happen, and people still get hurt.

In an ideal world, a driverless car would decrease crashes, lower insurance costs and help with the decrease in health insurance rates. In the real world, though, that’s not always the case. In May of this year, a Tesla on “autopilot” hit a truck, killing the driver in Willison, Fla. As a result, the car manufacturer reminds passengers to pay “constant attention” and practice “correction when necessary” when using “autopilot.”

Humans not required?

Florida’s 2016 legislation allows for driverless cars to operate on public roads without a human passenger. The previous requirement for “additional legislative or regulatory action that may be required for the safe testing and operation of vehicles equipped with autonomous technology” – from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report in 2014 – has also been eliminated. Although the initial testing stage is complete, applicable federal safety standards and regulations for driverless cars must still be honored.

No-fault laws still apply

In a no-fault state like as Florida, the Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have full liability insurance coverage before the crash. This coverage includes bodily injury liability with a minimum of $10,000 per person; $20,000 per crash; $10,000 property damage liability per crash; and personal injury protection (PIP) limits of $10,000 per person per crash. This is true regardless of whether or not the vehicle is driverless. In a no-fault state, all parties to an accident make claims to their own insurance companies, regardless of fault.

In some instances, it might be possible to prove that the accident – and resulting injuries – were caused due to a manufacturer’s defect. In such cases, additional damages could be pursued from the automobile’s maker. An experienced Melbourne auto accident attorney can help you understand your options, and can advise you on whether or not a second claim is feasible for your unique accident case.


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