Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler May 8, 2015

Look out — driverless cars and trucks are coming. But though designed for safety, that doesn’t mean they won’t cause car crashes. When they do, what will be driverless cars laws and legal issues? Who will be defendant in a car wreck lawsuit to recover victims’ damages?

Indeed, driverless cars — also known an autonomous vehicles — may present challenging liability questions to the United States legal system. New laws may be needed.

Yet laws already exist which may be called into play when driverless vehicles hit the road and cause a wreck. Among such possible driverless cars laws are product liability laws, contract laws and laws concerning design defects when a driverless vehicle is believed to have caused an accident.

When there’s manufacturer failure for a driverless car or truck, makers of autonomous vehicles could be legally liable in a traffic accident lawsuit.

Car Wreck Lawsuit

In a normal car crash involving vehicles driven by human beings, if a driver causes a wreck at the wheel of, say, a Ford, victims would not file a car wreck lawsuit against Ford for the driver’s mistakes.

A lawsuit against Ford would apply only if a design defect or manufacturing defect in the car itself caused the crash, meaning Ford was negligent. But a driver’s mistake is a driver’s mistake.

But driverless vehicles will be another thing. When such vehicles cause a crash, it could be argued that the manufacturer was responsible for designing a flawed vehicle. So, when a driverless or autonomous vehicles causes a crash, the manufacturer could be held responsible in a court of law.

If this were the case, plaintiffs would have a large, inviting target for a lawsuit rather than filing it against an individual driver.

New Laws May Be Needed

But though future liability may be asserted by product liability laws, unforeseen circumstances could complicate a case in which a driverless vehicle was believed to have caused an accident. New laws may be needed to protect innocent drivers and passengers when driverless vehicles are put into action.

Perhaps a vehicle designed to drive safely by day isn’t quite as efficient at night, and thus causes a crash. Or perhaps the software and hardware weren’t fully compatible. Or perhaps a large pothole or road obstruction contributed to a driverless vehicle’s error.

Setting liability will be vital, but not in the immediate future. Driverless cars and trucks aren’t on our roads yet, and by 2025 only 230,000 are expected to have been sold. However, that will jump to nearly 12 million by 2035.

For now, the only such driverless vehicles are largely prototypes, or perhaps low-speed shuttles used on college campuses or office campuses. But driverless vehicles are coming — as will be driverless vehicle lawsuits.

Will Driverless Cars Be Safe?

The purpose of autonomous vehicles is to provide more safety on our roads. But will driverless cars be safe? And how about a driverless big rig truck?

To plan ahead, makers of autonomous vehicle technology want to test their vehicles on our roads to avoid potential pitfalls of their use.

So far, four states allow autonomous vehicles to be tested on public roads, provided a human driver remains behind the wheel for the tests. Those states are Florida, California, Nevada and Michigan, joined by the District of Columbia.

Texas does not allow such testing. But keep in mind that few laws specifically prohibit the general operation of such vehicles, apart from testing.

Makers of 18-wheeler trucks are hopeful that their vehicles will be among the first to be legally driverless. They argue for more states to allow the tests that are needed.

Until then, the complications and problems of driverless vehicles won’t be fully known, and driverless car liability may be a legal gray area.

In fact, it may not be until after autonomous vehicles become fairly common that nuances and variables of their defects become apparent. That certainly is the case with some pharmaceutical drugs, which are approved and released on the market, only to reveal defects and side effects later.

Sometimes, regulators and lawmakers must play “catch up.”

Driverless Car Liability

For now, we can only wait and hope that driverless vehicles will not be more dangerous than vehicles operated by human drivers, who often are inattentive, intoxicated, texting or willfully in violation of traffic laws.

But if and when problems do arise, determining driverless car liability will be crucial in protecting innocent drivers and their passengers if an autonomous vehicle causes a car crash.

Then or now, you can rely on Jim Adler & Associates to have knowledge of car accident laws and to fight for victims’ rights. If you need to hire a lawyer now, or in a future with driverless cars, let us help.

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Testimonials

Erick Becker
Erick Becker
01:20 06 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.
Tierra Clark
Tierra Clark
18:52 19 May 17
My lawyer Bill Adler and case manager Iris Sanchez are amazing! They constantly call and check on you . They keep you up to date through the process. They care about you as a person and not just a client. The wreck was a life changing experience that I've never been through before. I'm just glad I had the right people like Bill Adler and Iris Sanchez to help me through it. Truly satisfied.Thanks and God bless y'all!
Lorenzo Preston
Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
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Tori Barroga
Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
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Bernard Orozco
Bernard Orozco
17:16 23 Feb 17
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