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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 the control of an Orwellian government-monitored computer database. We already know that our texts and emails are being followed. They are even stored by the NSA, violating the plain language 4th Amendment.
We also know that many politicians and judges they appoint 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 the collateral source rule remains. Because of this, courts could reduce economic damages under California’s Nishihama, Hanif, and Howell line of cases. 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. Product 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 how people view commuting and travel, much like the company’s search engine changed Internet searches.
Engineers have focused on building a self-driving car 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 cannot do when operating a motor vehicle. Blind spots, weather conditions, and limited vision are all eliminated with these driverless cars. Google alleges that the only accidents were from other drivers testing the uncrewed vehicles over thousands of miles.
The company believes the use of this type of vehicle by drivers in the future may also reduce traffic congestion. And this is because the cars 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.
They will connect with a unified computer network, similar to a train. Google cars are unavailable to consumers and won’t be for some time.
Auto manufacturers have been using technology to make cars safer, reduce human error, and 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 the auto had veered out of its lane.
It does so by causing the steering wheel to vibrate. The car will autocorrect if the driver does not correct it after leaving the lane. The road feature can help avoid accidents caused by driver distraction or a driver who has fallen asleep at the wheel.
While testing continues on the vehicles that operate independently 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 of 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 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 must be in place and roadway use. Before the cars are on the market for consumers, the legislative proposal is essential. Because of this, liability could become an issue in crash mishaps and 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 depends on software; another technology that may pose a hazard is its 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 plaintiff’s bar is concerned that the same legal standards must apply to Google cars as any other technology. The real issue 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 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 bring a product claim. So they do not have to worry about all these potential defenses. But 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, the more likely there will be a dip in car accidents.
Moreover, this will undoubtedly devastate the car crash attorney’s bar. But as seen above, this is not a technology 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 outlawed.
Bikes will be made driverless to control 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 shows a stark future for personal injury attorneys. Soon we will all live in a standard padded room.
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in U.S. History. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves in being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride, and a a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.
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