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Legal,  Personal Injury Law

Autonomous vehicles will present tricky liability, insurance issues

In the near future, Ontario’s drivers will share the road with autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Their presence will present new challenges for personal injury lawyers: Who is to blame for collisions involving autonomous vehicles?  From whom can injury victims pursue compensation in civil court?

The auto insurance industry is confronting similar questions:

“We all know the automated vehicle revolution is coming with major ramifications for auto insurance,” said David McGown, the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) senior vice president of strategic initiatives at an April event. “In the new paradigm, product failure rather than human error will become the key factor for liability coverage. And we must prepare for a messy transition during a time when fully automated vehicles will share the road with less automated ones.”

In order to address potential complications arising from collisions involving autonomous vehicles, Canadian insurers are developing a framework to ensure claims can be processed quickly and efficiently, Canadian Underwriter reports. Members of the industry say their share a common goal with personal injury lawyers: to ensure that injured Canadians have timely access to the compensation they need.

“Product liability claims are more complex and take longer to settle than typical vehicle collisions liability claims,” IBC director of policy Ryan Stein told Canadian Underwriter. “Do you want a person who is injured in a collision caused by an automated vehicle to go through a protracted period of uncertainty during the claims process?”

The framework is modeled in part after the United Kingdom’s Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which stipulates that injury victims be compensated by their insurance provider for damages caused by faulty autonomous vehicle technology. The insurer may then seek liability payments from the manufacturer of the vehicle, effectively removing from the injury victim the burden of pursuing a product liability claim.

Once autonomous vehicles make up the majority of vehicles on the road, it is reasonable to assume that accident rates will fall significantly. Until that time, however, drivers, insurers, and personal injury lawyers will have to navigate a murky transitional period that places AI and human drivers alongside each other on Canadian roads, an arrangement that will surely lead to complex, precedent-setting legal disputes.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team can help you understand your legal situation, assess the validity of your claim, and guide you on your first steps toward recovery.

Image credit: GmanViz/Flickr

Greg Neinstein

Greg Neinstein

Greg Neinstein, B.A. LLB., is the Managing Partner at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers LLP. His practice focuses on serious injury and complex insurance claims, including motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, long-term disability claims and insurance claims. Greg has extensive mediation and trial experience and has a reputation among his colleagues as a skillful negotiator.
Greg Neinstein

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