By now, most people know that self-driving cars are soon to be a reality thanks to companies like Google, Ford and Volvo who are all pushing ahead to make this science fiction become a science reality. But as the Washington Post recently discovered in February of this year, the hype about self-driving cars is only matched by the number of questions they raise.
After posting an article regarding the federal government's decision to recognize Google's software as a driver, the Washington Post received dozens of responses from readers, many of which contained questions many people across the nation, including here in California, are now wondering.
Here is a list of seven we wanted to highlight for you because of their legal ramifications:
1. If a self-driving car crashes, is the carmaker to blame?
2. If someone dies in a crash, is the driver or carmaker sent to jail on criminal charges?
3. How will self-driving cars affect insurance rates?
4. Will the driver's ability to operate the vehicle factor into a possible crash?
5. Will someone with a suspended or revoked license be allowed to drive?
6. If a hacker crashes a self-driving car, who is held liable?
7. If there is a crash, who does the victim sue?
While many of these questions focus on liability, particularly in accidents, self-driving cars do raise other important questions, such as those concerning insurance rates and how criminal acts will be handled.
Though existing personal injury - particularly products liability laws - address questions concerning liability and seeking compensation after a crash, questions concerning insurance rates and criminal charges will take time to address, particularly if new laws need to be passed.