Autonomous cars and accident liability

Ready or not, autonomous cars are coming to West Virginia and the rest of the United States. The Mercedes-Benz S550 already features semi-autonomous abilities, and Tesla began testing its self-driving car this summer. Google is also testing autopilot cars, and Apple is rumored to be developing its own autonomous car.

According to the Google Car website, 94 percent of all car crashes are caused by human error. However, if humans are removed from the driving equation, who will claim responsibility for the remaining 6 percent of the crashes? Mercedes-Benz and Google told the media that they would accept blame for any crashes caused by their autonomous cars. Volvo, which will be launching its Drive Me project in 2017, also said it would accept liability for its self-driving car crashes.

The automakers' willingness to claim responsibility is a risk. No system is 100 percent perfect, and the competition to get the first autonomous car on the road may cause design errors to slip through. To help ease the transition, a representative of Volvo is calling for lawmakers to open U.S. roadways for testing. Currently, only California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada allow car companies to test autonomous vehicles on their roads. Volvo wants the federal government to step in so that designers and engineers can accurately map all the nation's roads. The company claims leaving such decisions up to individual states will prevent the necessary framework from being developed.

Automobile accidents cause thousands of serious injuries each year. West Virginia residents injured by negligent drivers may benefit by consulting with an attorney. In some cases, it may be advisable to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

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