Will people be able to sue if a self-driving car crashes?

Self-driving cars are being developed, and many people believe that they're the way of the future. Despite that, some worry that the companies creating these vehicles could make it impossible for drivers to sue if they get into crashes while using them.

The point of a self-driving vehicle is to take human error out of the equation. However, that could mean that people who do get into crashes with these vehicles would want to hold the companies and manufacturers who produce them liable in the event of a collision.

Contracts to Limit Company Liability

According to the news, 10 U.S. senators are asking if major companies such as Fiat and Ford will use or plan to use contracts that limit their liability if a consumer gets into a collision in one of their vehicles. There is concern that companies could use forced arbitration clauses that would make it hard for drivers or passengers to file a claim against the companies.

Uber Accident

Just recently, a self-driving Uber sport-vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian near Phoenix, Arizona. The company stopped road testing because of the incident. Under Uber's terms of service, the politicians claimed that if someone in the vehicle had been injured or killed, they would have had to seek compensation through arbitration and not court. Arbitration requirements would also stop consumers from joining class-action lawsuits, which could reduce the incentives to provide safe vehicles to the public.

This current gray area of the law is something to keep in mind if you're in a crash. You always want to make sure you have the right to pursue a claim if you're hurt.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Could self-driving car companies stop you from suing?" Todd Spangler, accessed April 20, 2018

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