Anyone in New Jersey who keeps up on the progress of semi-autonomous vehicle technology has likely heard of the accident in Utah that occurred in May. The driver of a Tesla Model S had Autopilot engaged but collided with a fire truck, suffering a broken ankle. She admitted that at the time of the crash, she was distracted by her phone.
While most would agree that the accident is newsworthy in how it raises concerns about the safety of self-driving cars, this is not the opinion of the Tesla CEO. The CEO made comments criticizing the news media for focusing on this incident; he claims that fatal accidents are more deserving of attention.
Many take this as Tesla’s attempt to divert scrutiny of its technology. The news media can hardly be accused of neglecting serious accidents. The Utah incident has garnered widespread attention not because of the broken ankle but because of the technology. Autopilot has been known to make drivers complacent with Tesla even giving warnings along these lines.
In addition, Tesla’s self-driving cars, which were developed in a regulatory vacuum, have not been demonstrated to be safer than human drivers. To do this, it would take billions of miles of test driving according to a RAND study.
As long as cars are not completely autonomous, drivers will still be responsible for not getting into car accidents. Victims of negligent driving that causes an accident may wish to file a claim and be reimbursed for their losses, including medical bills and vehicle repair costs. A lawyer may assist by evaluating the case, building up the claim with data brought together by accident investigators and negotiating for a settlement. The lawyer might litigate if the insurance company refuses to pay.