Attorney Reza Breakstone writes about the legal ramifications of self-driving cars in an article published in the Winter 2016-2017 edition of The Litigator, the official publication of the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association in Sacramento, California. Attorney Breakstone co-authored the article with Attorney Paul Hoybjerg of Roseville, California. In the article, “The Self Driving Car: Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Creating a Legal Quandary,” the authors write the time has come for the self-driving car.
“The self-driving car is no longer a distant dream of an imagined future. It is here, it is now, and it is reality. There already exist automated functions that come standard on vehicles: anti-lock brakes, self-parking, cruise control, and crash avoidance cameras. Automated cars will affect more than simply your ability to tie your tie or apply your make-up on the way to work. They stand to completely change the automotive industry, insurance world, legal market, public transport and city planning, while redefining the American culture of feeling “freedom” behind the wheel.”
The article explains the current levels of automation among vehicles on the market, investments in the industry and ramifications for auto insurers and plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.
“The less thrilling ramifications may be to the bottom line of auto insurers and the plaintiffs’ and defense bars in personal injury cases. Currently, auto insurance premiums account for $200 billion nationwide. The insurance industry, with decreased vehicle ownership and decreased liability issues on the part of the user, will find itself cut out of the equation. Allstate Corp. Chairman Thomas Wilson predicts that driverless cars will have “the most detrimental impact on auto insurance” and one “we don’t want to wait” to figure it out.”
The article says questions of liability and specifically who will be responsible need to be resolved and there must be uniform laws that states are willing to adopt.
“The self-driving car brings with it the hope of decreased fatalities and the excitement of a new horizon of transportation. The technology is closer than most realize. Multiple players, from automakers, insurers, and lawyers must be aware of the change or be left in the dust. While the technology is rapidly gaining steam with the help of major corporations and bright minds, there is still much that must be sorted out before the self-driving car is ready for the road. Or, maybe, before we are ready for the self-driving car.”
About Attorney Reza Breakstone
Attorney Reza Breakstone joined Breakstone, White & Gluck as an associate in 2015. He has earned a reputation as a tough and tenacious litigator helping both individuals who have been personally injured and burgeoning companies who have had insurance and contract disputes. More on Reza Breakstone.