When a “Computer Car” Crashes, Who Is Liable for the Harm Caused?

When a “Computer Car” Crashes in Pennsylvania, Who Is Liable for the Harm Caused?


As Google was testing its new computer operated car, the car allegedly rear-ended another vehicle. The reports on the accident dispute whether the computer or the driver was actually in control at the time of the collision, but there is a big question about how courts and the law will handle computer-driven cars and the liability for car accidents in Pennsylvania.

The new Google car is driven primarily by a computer, but a driver must be present in the car to take over the wheel as necessary. There are numerous lasers and sensors that help guide the car along an intended path. The Google car has travelled more than 160,000 miles already in and around Google’s headquarters during the testing phase.

One of the lingering questions surrounding the computer-driven car is who should be responsible if the car is involved in a serious car crash in Pennsylvania. Is it the computer or the manufacturing company who shouldn’t market the car unless it’s completely safe? Is it the driver who is able to take over control of the car in the event of a pending crash?
These questions are all important to answer before a computer car is ever sold to consumers. Without further guidance from legislatures about the future of computer-driven cars, consumers, manufacturers, attorneys and insurance companies will be left wondering how to handle these modern marvels.

Source: FindLaw Injured Blog “Google Car Crash: Self-Driving But Human Error,” 8/9/2011

Contact Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyers today if you have been injured in a crash.