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Driverless Cars Likely to Debut on Florida Roads


While you might see cars operated by artificial intelligence on Florida roads, those cars require drivers to oversee the process. In other words, these self-driving cars have drivers inside. That could change, however, and it looks set to change soon.

Already, self-driving buses have brought passengers to and from their stops. Those close to the Governor say that there are still some issues that need to be worked out, but the buzz is that self-driving cars without drivers inside will be hitting Florida streets sooner rather than later.

As a personal injury attorney, this brings up several interesting questions legally.

Disruptive Technologies and Legal Issues

Every time a new disruptive technology is introduced into the stream of commerce, it creates a number of issues where legal definitions seem to blur into one another and overlap. There are two ways this creates problems for legal experts.

First, in a typical driver crash situation, you are litigating against either an individual or their insurance policy. In Florida, you have no-fault insurance that pays out regardless of who is responsible for the accident. That means that, unless you are severely injured or killed, driverless cars would only have insurance policies on their passengers. Logistically, these driverless cars are unlikely to always be carrying passengers and, indeed, the new rules are aimed at allowing that. The question then becomes: Are the AI’s required to carry insurance? Should the cars themselves carry insurance? Do their owners have a policy that covers them? What does that policy look like?

A second question then becomes apparent: Who foots the bill in the event of a major accident? Is it the owner of the driverless car? The company that designed the AI that drives it? In the majority of cases like these, it’s been the company that developed the AI that has been held liable. But this brings up another question. Since it’s the software that’s responsible for the accident, does it qualify for the same strict liability statutes that your typical product would?

This is one area where there is already a gray area. Software is not, by law, considered a “product”. It is considered a “service”. As a “service” software does not qualify for strict liability under product liability litigation standards that have been adopted by every state. Instead, those who file lawsuits against a software company must be able to show that the software developers were guilty of some kind of negligence. This is not the case when a defective “product” causes an injury. Injured consumers litigating claims against companies do not need to prove negligence.

It’s Going to Get Interesting

In most cases like this, the law is caught trying to scramble to catch up with the technology. We’ve seen this already with the advent of Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies. In California, and now also in Florida, rideshare scooters have proven disruptive in more ways than one. Lawsuits related to these technologies accrue and lawmakers are left trying to figure out what to do.

Alan Goldfarb P.A. Can Help

If you’re injured the Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb P.A. can help you recover damages related to your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.





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