Self-Driving Cars Could Cause Spate of Dangerous Product Suits

July 7, 2016
By Rhine Law Firm, P.C.

With the increased successes of Google’s self-driving cars, more and more auto manufacturers are entering into the high-tech world of vehicles that can drive with less and less human intervention. While this is an exciting new technology, debates have raged over whether this is a truly safe endeavor. With the recent death of a Tesla driver who was killed while his car was driving on Autopilot, many in North Carolina and around the country have joined in concern over what may actually be a dangerous product.

In the first documented case of a fatality caused by a wreck while a car was in self-driving mode, a man who recently praised the technology perished. The car’s cameras were unable to distinguish between a brightly lit sky and the white side of a turning 18-wheeler. According to the driver of the semi, it appeared that the driver was watching a movie during the time of the crash, which was still playing after the man passed through the truck and crashed into a telephone pole just down the road. Tesla has since said that watching a movie on the touchscreen in the car is impossible.

The accident occurred on May 7 near Williston, Florida, when the semi was crossing the divided highway an attempting to turn left. The wreck completely sheared off the roof of the car, and the driver was declared dead at the scene. This is not the first time that automatic braking systems have failed, and many other car manufacturers such as Lexus and Toyota have recalled vehicles to upgrade the radar calibrations to include events that were originally programmed into the system.

While it may be understood that self-driving cars still need humans to give input and remain alert, it can be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by the technology. Those in North Carolina who have experienced accidents due to what many may consider a dangerous product could benefit from discussing their situations with an attorney. Attorneys who are well-versed in product liability litigation will be in the best position to offer guidance as to the various legal options available to seek restitution in the event of an accident.

Source:, “Tesla driver killed in crash while using car’s ‘Autopilot’”, Joan Lowy and Tom Krisher, June30, 2016
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