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California mulls rules for self-driving motor vehicle accidents

Uber's roll-out of a self-driving car program in California was halted almost sooner than it started. The program was shut down for permit violations amid fears of motor vehicle accidents potentially caused by the vehicles. Uber, one of the nation's largest ride-sharing companies, had launched in Pittsburgh in September.

California drivers might be surprised to learn that Uber is not the only company that is actively testing self-driving vehicles on the state's roads. In fact, more than 130 vehicles are currently being tested; Uber only got in trouble because the company failed to obtain the appropriate permits. Uber could face serious legal consequences if they continue to ignore permitting mandates.

In addition to registering their testing programs with the state, self-driving vehicle developers are required to provide information about crash rates. Nationwide, regulators are still working to draft an appropriate legal framework to protect drivers and passengers in a world of increasingly autonomous vehicles. California has the largest number of self-driving vehicles in the nation - the trend started with Google's initial experiments in 2009.

All of these developments lead to increasing concerns about fatal car accidents and wrongful death claims associated with self-driving vehicles. For example, if someone is involved in a crash with a self-driving car, who is responsible for the associated medical expenses, pain and suffering and other legal claims? These questions become even more important in the event of a fatal car accident with one of these autonomous vehicles.

In today's changing transportation environment, attorneys must constantly educate themselves about personal injury best practices in order to keep up with the competition. A qualified attorney can help accident victims of all types, even those who have been harmed by self-driving cars. As these vehicles become more common and visible on California roads, the number of legal questions surrounding their use is sure to increase.

Source: Forbes, "California Orders Uber To Halt San Francisco Driverless Car Program On Day One," Alan Ohnsman, Dec. 14, 2016

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