The Future of Car Wreck Litigation

The driverless car is coming.  And when it does, accident fatalities will decrease substantially.  What will the legal landscape look like in a world in which human error has been removed from the driving experience?

The Future of Car Wreck Litigation

Newsweek notes the life-saving potential of driverless cars:

Human error is the main reason for most car crashes. In July 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a report to Congress called the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey.  After studying 6,950 crashes over a period of three years they determined that 93 percent of all the accidents were caused by human error: Among other things, people were distracted, they were traveling too fast, they misjudged the other driver or their own abilities, they overcompensated after an error, they panicked or, in 3 percent of cases, they were asleep. Removing humans from the equation will eliminate every one of those problems. According to a 2015 study by McKinsey & Company, fatalities from car accidents could fall by as much as 90 percent, saving $190 billion, when driverless cars take over.

If accident fatalities “fall by as much as 90 percent,” car wreck litigation as it is now generally practiced could face some major upheavals.   As driving becomes less deadly and less dangerous, people will be less injured.  The fewer injuries and accidents, the smaller the need for legal services.   Decreased demand for car wreck attorneys could drive some attorneys from the “marketplace” of car wreck litigation.

As demand falls for legal services (in this imagined future of car wreck litigation in the age of the driverless car), it is also possible that the insurance premiums available as compensation in car wreck lawsuits will be much less than today’s levels.  Here again, from Newsweek:

A recent study by the insurance, tax and auditing firm KPMG found that if accidents drop by 80 to 90 percent, the personal auto insurance sector could also fall by as much as 60 percent due to lost premiums. Some of that could be made up by insuring manufacturers, who will likely take on the burden of responsibility for car-related accidents. After all, it’s their software that will control how cars drive, so it will be on them to prevent fender benders.

With the human error element removed from the roadways, recoveries in car wreck litigation may center upon the liability of the programmers and manufacturers who design and build driverless cars.  Instead of focusing on driver negligence, future car wreck cases may focus on the safety of the driverless cars involved in accidents. In the future of car wreck litigation, car wreck attorneys will have to brush up on their products liability law.

Another possible consequence of the driverless car: “Cities like L.A. may start running fleets of driverless public transportation cars and vans.”  Lifestyle benefits aside, this kind of change would mean, in effect, that any accident involving a city-owned driverless car would be capped under typical Governmental Tort Liability Acts. The capping of potential recoveries could discourage law firms from pursuing such cases. It is conceivable, if not likely, that local, state, and even the federal government could protect driverless car manufacturers from potential lawsuits.

Of course, fewer serious injuries are a good thing. But law firms and personal injury lawyers will need to adapt to the changing technological landscape in order to adjust to this hypothetical future of car wreck litigation in the age of the driverless car.

[post written by @CWSmith_Law]

Over $500 Million
Recovered Since 1993

We've Helped Thousands of People Just Like You

We are known for getting life-changing results and fighting to make our communities safer.

Why Choose Us As Your  Attorneys?

With us on your side, you can focus on what’s most important – your recovery.

Decades Of Experience

Decades Of Experience

Our Nashville attorneys have over 75 years of combined practice handling cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, civil rights, medical device lawsuits, wrongful death, and much more.

Excellent Reputation

Excellent Reputation

DRS Law is a well-respected law firm in Nashville and throughout the U.S. Founder, David Randolph Smith, has been selected as a Mid-South Super Lawyer, named one of the Top 100 attorneys in Tennessee in all fields of practice, and is included in the Best Lawyers in America guidebook.

Small Case Volume

Small Case Volume

Unlike many Nashville firms or lawyers that handle a large volume of cases, we concentrate our expertise on a select few cases. With this, our attorneys ensure that every step is taken to obtain the most favorable outcomes for our clients.

We Prepare For Trial

We Prepare For Trial

Every case is meticulously prepared for trial by our trial team and support staff in order to maximize the recovery for our client, whether by settlement or trial verdict. Our proven track record of success has resulted in multi-million-dollar settlements and judgments in a wide variety of individual and group cases.

What to Expect

Our Legal Services Are Completely Personalized To You And Your Unique Needs

01  Free Consultation

Our top-rated Tennessee personal injury lawyers provide free, no-pressure case evaluations. We will help you determine if you have a case and will answer all your questions in plain English. We never charge any fees until we win your case.

02  Personalized Service

If we take your case, it’s because we believe we can help you. We will get to work outlining a strategic plan of action. We want you to feel taken care of during this difficult time — whatever questions you have, we’re here with answers. Frequent check-ins ensure you are comfortable with the progress of your case.

03  You Get Paid

We are passionate about the success of your case and will give it the close attention and focus it deserves. We find solutions that other lawyers miss, discovering key facts that help you win. We call upon our gifts in storytelling to argue your case with passion and conviction so you get the compensation and justice you deserve.

What Our Clients Say