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Self-Driving Car Loophole Could Protect Car Companies from Legal Issues

Self-driving vehicles are the wave of the future. Car manufacturers are focusing a large portion of their research and development efforts into the self-driving industry. Ride hail companies are also investing in self-driving vehicles with the hopes of operating their own fleets of self-driving taxis.

And while this technology has the potential to lower the amount of car accidents and deaths annually, it’s what happens after an accident that should concern passengers the most.

“Victims of car accidents go through the entire auto accident claim process. She negotiates with insurance companies, obtains medical records and other important documentation needed to file your claim,” states injury attorney Denise Bradshaw.

It’s a complex process, but new legislation being considered by the Senate may change the rules.

What You Need to Know About the AV Start Act

The bill, being pushed by tech companies and car companies, is being called the “AV Start Act.” The bill passed through the House unanimously, and now it’s going to the Senate to be considered further.

Experts are concerned that the bill puts too much faith in self-driving vehicles claiming that bugs and errors will happen.

Even a variable as simple as placing a sticker on a stop sign is able to disrupt self-driving technology. Misinterpretation by the onboard system can lead to a car crash.

What the AV Start Act does is:

  • Not prohibit forced arbitration

The manufacturer of the autonomous vehicle and the consumer would not be able to go into forced arbitration. If Toyota makes a self-driving vehicle that is found to have sensors that are defective and caused thousands of accidents, consumers could not join a class action lawsuit against the automaker.

Victims would also lose their ability to sue the manufacturer of the technology.

Instead, the only legal resource that the victim has is to file for arbitration. It’s always in the best interest of the arbitrator to keep themselves in business, so they’re less likely to vote in favor of the victim.

A balance of power is lost when arbitration occurs. The public is also kept out of the “loop” when arbitration occurs. Private arbitration could lead to the public not being alerted to flaws in self-driving vehicles, which could lead to future accidents in the future if a defect is causing the accidents to occur.

The bill has been scrutinized by Senators, but no one has yet spoken out about the arbitration clause which will negatively effect passengers in self-driving vehicles.

Experts are also concerned that hackers could infiltrate the self-driving vehicle, causing accidents in the process. Federal safety protection is lost if the new bill passes, keeping the automakers away from liability clams.

Uber and Lyft already have a forced arbitration clause in their terms of service.

The signing of the terms of service, which most people do not read when they sign up for either of the apps, signs away the user’s right to sue Uber or Lyft.

Automakers focusing on self-driving vehicles and technology have not commented on the matter.

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Self-Driving Car Loophole Could Protect Car Companies from Legal Issues