Logan’s Run, the hit 70’s TV show, warned of days like this. But it appears that nothing will stop the wave of technology that places the citizen under control of an Orwellian government monitored computer database. We already know that our personal texts and emails are being followed. They are even stored by the NSA, in violation of the plain language 4th Amendment.
We also know that many politicians and judges they appoint, actually think that our unalienable rights are mere privileges. But many tort and consumer attorneys still look to more government regulation and control over the lives of everyday citizens as a positive thing.
Many experts fear that Obamacare will eviscerate what remains of the collateral source rule. Because of this, courts could reduce economic damages under the Nishihama, Hanif, and Howell line of cases in California. After that, the driverless automobile could very well bankrupt what remains of the personal injury plaintiff’s bar. However, there are always winners and losers. Products liability attorneys may still be able to thrive in the car accident field, by pursuing product liability lawsuits against Google and their technology companies when, or if these cars go haywire, maim and kill.
The Google cars not requiring a driver to operate the vehicle may change the car accident rate on the nation’s highways and suburban streets forever. The Google non-driver car could change the way people look at commuting and travel, much the same as the company’s search engine changed Internet searches.
Engineers have focused on building a car that is self-driving that will use sensors, computer data, and satellites, with Google claiming the vehicle will reduce the number of car accidents. The company known for its Internet search engine believes there will be a reduction in car mishaps due to technology intervention.
The computer data and sensors the cars will use can see 360 degrees at all times. Presently, this is something that human drivers are not able to do when operating a motor vehicle. Blind spots, weather conditions, limited vision all are eliminated with these driverless cars. Google alleges that in testing the uncrewed vehicles over thousands of miles, the only accidents occurring were from other drivers.
The company believes the use of this type of vehicle by drivers in the future may reduce traffic congestion as well. And this is because the vehicles will be able to drive closer to the one in front. The other way Google feels this will reduce traffic congestion is by virtually linking the vehicles together.
That way, they will be connected by a unified computer network, similar to a train. Google cars are not available to consumers and won’t be for some time.
Auto manufacturers have been using technology to make cars safer and reduce some human error and continue to improve safety in motor vehicles, primarily to reduce human error. The manufacturers include Ford Motor Vehicles. Ford has been installing lane-keeping technology in their cars. They did that to alert the driver if an auto has veered out of its lane.
It does so by causing the steering wheel to vibrate. If the driver does not correct after leaving the lane, the car will autocorrect. The road feature can help in avoiding accidents caused by driver distraction or a driver who has fallen asleep at the wheel.
While testing continues on the vehicles that operate on their own without the need for a driver, also known as robot cars, they will be sharing the road with autos operated by a driver. This poses the question about accidents and at-fault liability. The states of California and Nevada are both proposing or passing legislation. This will place requirements on the testing on roadways of these latest technology vehicles.
Colorado is expected to follow in the proposed legislation. But it may be some time before this future generation of automobiles is available to consumers. After all, rules and regulations for manufacturing specifications and testing need to be in place, as well as roadway use.
The proposal of legislation before the cars being on the market for consumers is an essential factor since. Because of this liability could become an issue not only in crash mishaps but also in defective products. The Google car is a vehicle that might reduce traffic accidents. And this remains the case since it does not require a driver behind the wheel. Instead, it is dependent on software, and another technology that may pose a hazard is it malfunctions. When this fails, and it will, there will be casualties.
Google will probably be able to carve out exceptions for itself from lawmakers. It donates money to both sides of the aisle regarding liability for lawsuits. So the concern among the plaintiff’s bar is that the same legal standards must apply to Google cars, as is for any other technology. The real issue here is if Google can make technology part of a government program. After all, this could potentially shield the internet powerhouse with sovereign immunity. We have seen similar things happen when the state takes over a train or transit system.
When the government designs something under part of an approved plan, it can also try and assert immunity. So this could throw a wrench in any potential suit as far as the timing goes, among other problems. Presently, under the law, if a Google car causes a wreck, a consumer can just bring a product’s claim. So they do not have to worry about all these potential defenses. But just think of the partnership between Big Brother and Google that could be. We already know that California is issuing licenses for these cars.
As more and more businesses flee California to business-friendly states. The more and more driverless cars take the roads, it is highly likely there will be a dip in car accidents. Moreover, this will certainly devastate the car crash attorney’s bar. But as seen above, this is not a technology that is ready for prime time. And if it is rushed to market, it could be the next Pinto case.
The choices are clear, find a chink in the technology, and sue now while you can. Plan on your practice taking a big hit. If this pattern continues, it is only a matter of time before motorcycles are either outlawed. Of bikes will be made driverless in the interests of controlling government-run healthcare costs, just as kitchen knives and glass beer mugs are being slated for retirement in the UK. At some point, the crystal ball is showing a stark future for personal injury attorneys. Soon we will all live in a standard padded room.
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