From John L. McCraw, III, a Texas Car Accident Attorney and owner of The McCraw Law Group in McKinney, Texas.
Drive.ai, a self-driving vehicle company, recently launched a six-month pilot program in Frisco which will provide free taxi services in a small, predetermined service area utilizing self-driving vans developed by the company.
The routes have designated pick-up and drop-off points and function more like a bus system than an actual on-demand taxi service. However, the vehicles themselves are completely autonomous, even though they will (at least initially) have backup safety drivers on board. Frisco’s leadership believes that the vehicles will be safe, and that it is important for the city to be a player in the support and development of self-driving vehicles.
Frisco’s decision to allow autonomous vehicles on its roads is undoubtedly forward-looking, but may overlook pedestrian and occupant safety, especially considering the recent accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle that struck and killed a woman crossing the road on her bicycle in Tempe, Arizona. That accident led Arizona to halt Uber’s self-driving vehicle program and was viewed by many as a blow to the fast-developing technology.
Frisco’s decision to allow the pilot program may pay dividends in the future, but until the technology is as foolproof and error-free as possible, the risk to other drivers and pedestrians will remain, and those individuals will need to rely on the law to be able to recover for any damages that result from accidents with self-driving vehicles.
What will certainly be a developing challenge for anyone seeking recovery for damages in a self-driving vehicle incident will be the fact that in most claims for damages, many plaintiffs assert that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the injury suffered. However, any claim for negligence requires a showing that the defendant failed to act as a reasonably prudent person, and that the act or omission by the defendant caused the injuries claimed. If the vehicle is being autonomously driven, the determination of negligence will undoubtedly become incredibly challenging, as will the assessment of liability.
As with any new technology, the law may take longer to catch up than it does for the technology to evolve to the point that it is widely accepted in society. Until that time, it will be absolutely necessary for individuals who are harmed by autonomous vehicles to enlist experienced personal injury counsel to guide them through their claims, protect their rights, and ensure maximum compensation.
Texas Personal Injury Attorney John L. McCraw, III, owner of The McCraw Law Group, has been a trial lawyer for over 20 years. He is a Board of Directors Member with the Texas trial Lawyers Association and a member of the American Association for Justice. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.