Tesla Accidents Raise Issues Concerning Self-Driving Cars and Insurance


July 13, 2016

Two accidents have now been reported that may have occurred while Tesla vehicles were operating on "autopilot." The first accident occurred in Florida when an 18 wheeler made a left-hand turn in front of a Tesla Model S. The Tesla, operating in autopilot, failed to apply the brakes and the driver also failed to stop the vehicle in time, leading to a tragic fatal accident. A second crash involving a Tesla Model X occurred on July 1 in Pennsylvania. The vehicle struck a turnpike guardrail, veered into the median, and landed on its roof.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the crash and has yet to determine that autopilot played a role in the crash. Media sources have stated the driver said autopilot was activated, but this has not yet been independently confirmed. Both of these accidents raise questions about autopilot, self-driving vehicles, and insurance issues that the public will face as our technology continues to rapidly expand.

In the not so distant future, self-driving cars will likely become a reality across the nation. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our law firm monitors technological innovations reported in the news involving our fields of practice so that we are better prepared to deal with any issues that our clients may face in the future. 

Autonomous Vehicles and State Law

Currently, six states allow the use of an autonomous vehicle on their roadways. These states are California, Florida, Michigan, North Dakota, Nevada, and Tennessee. Several other states have passed some sort of legislation governing the use of automated vehicles within the state. Thus far, Georgia passed a House Bill, HR 1265, during the 2013-14 session. The bill calls for a House Study Committee on autonomous vehicles and their use in the state. It is, therefore, conceivable that within the next five years, autonomous cars may operate within Georgia.

Whose Responsibility Is It When an Autonomous Vehicle Crashes?

Semi-autonomous vehicles, like Tesla's autopilot cars and SUVs, inform drivers that they must maintain control of the vehicle even while in autopilot. Makers of these vehicles are clearly attempting to make it clear that drivers will be responsible for crashes in autopilot mode. However, what is to happen when vehicles are fully autonomous? Is the driver still expected to pay stringent attention to the road and react in the event of a near accident? This is not the image most have when contemplating the concept of a self-driving car. It may also be unclear as to whether automotive companies will be assuming considerable liability in creating these cars, assuming accidents will continue to occur.

Insurance becomes the next significant question. If automakers now face more liability than individuals, will the entire insurance industry change to meet the evolving liability landscape? These are just some of the many complex legal issues that arise when we contemplate autonomous vehicles, and they are worth exploring, considering the potential for self-driving cars looming in the near future.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Case!

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident, the Atlanta Car Accident Attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, are here to help. For over 30 years, our law firm has assisted accident victims throughout Georgia and the Southeast.

No matter where you are located, our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.