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Proving liability when cars are self-driven

In Google's home city, over 20 self-driving cars have been meandering about the streets as the Internet giant tests their capability. The tests are reportedly controlled, with multiple Google employees in the cars at all times to record data. Someone always sits behind the wheel, ready to take over in an emergency. However, that didn't stop one of the cars from being involved in an accident recently.

According to reports, the accident occurred when three Google employees were riding in a self-driving Lexus. The Lexus was hit from behind by another car, which was not part of the Google test. All three employees in the Google car and the driver of the other car were treated at a local hospital. Complaints included back and neck pain.

Reports indicate that testing of self-driven cars has been conducted by Google and others for about six years. The tests have covered a cumulative of about 1.9 million miles and have resulted in 14 accidents. While that's a good track record, there are legal and liability concerns that are raised by the fact that self-driving cars seem poised to hit the market in the near future.

When an accident occurs on the roadway, the at-fault driver and his or her insurance agency is usually responsible for covering some or all damages experienced by others in the accident. What happens when a self-driven car is part of an accident? If two self-driven cars are involved in an accident, how is liability determined? If both drivers are busy with other things while their cars drive themselves and there are no witnesses to the event, is there any information on which to build a liability case?

While these questions are for future accidents, they are related to questions asked today. Building a case for liability on the part of another driver is one way to help ensure compensation for your damages or injuries. Understanding what questions to ask is important to proving liability.

Source: ABC News, "Google Self-Driving Car Involved in First Injury Accident," Justin Pritchard, July 16, 2015

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