For the first time since its introduction, Google’s self-operating vehicle was involved in an injury accident on Thursday, July 16, 2015. While the crash was not the self-driving vehicle’s fault, four people reported minor injuries. What’s more, the car accident has raised questions about future liability and car insurance if self-driving cars ever go commercial.
The Details of the Accident
While this is not the first accident that a Google SUV—this one, a Lexus—has been involved in, it was the first one to result in any injuries. In fact, the accident was the fourteenth accident in six years.
This accident was, like ten other accidents since the cars’ introduction, a rear-end collision. The Google car, as well as the vehicle in front of the Google car, had stopped at an intersection light. However, the car behind the Google car did not, and rear-ended the vehicle at a speed of about 17 miles per hour.
Injuries to Passengers and Driver of Other Vehicle
Currently, the law in California does not allow for self-operating vehicles to be on the roads unattended. As such, three Google employees, all of whom suffered from minor whiplash, were occupying the vehicle at the time of the crash. The driver of the other vehicle may have sustained minor injuries to the back and neck.
Who is liable?
In Pennsylvania, car insurance follows a no-fault protocol. This means that in the majority of cases, drivers can turn to the personal injury protection (PIP) of their policy for medical payments coverage. In the case above, because there were no serious injuries, it’s likely that each driver’s PIP coverage paid for injuries. In the event of the Google vehicle, because there was no actual controller, whatever insurance policy the car is covered under (or under whomever’s name the policy is held) will most likely pay for injuries.
While it is unknown how insurance will work in the event that Google’s self-driving vehicles go commercial, the above scenario is possible; the car will still need to be insured, driver or not, probably under the name of the car’s owner. Many other questions will need to be considered, such as, if your driverless car is hit by an uninsured driver then would the product manufacturer, in this case, Google, pay for your damages?
Understand More About Liability and Car Insurance in Pennsylvania
If you have more questions about who may be liable for an accident or when you can file a tort outside of the insurance system, Cordisco & Saile LLC can help. Contact Cordisco & Saile LLC at 215-642-2335.