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Autonomous cars and product liability

Illinois motorists may have heard that autonomous cars will eventually replace vehicles that are driven by people. This will lead to changes across a number of industries including automobile insurance. While drivers are usually liable in accidents when they are negligent, with self-driving cars, the focus will shift to manufacturers, contractors and software developers.

For example, accident investigations, which currently look at issues such as whether a driver was careless or ran a red light, may instead look at software failures or whether safety technology worked as it should have. Autonomous vehicles may be vulnerable to tampering by hackers, and this could also result in accidents.

It is anticipated that product liability claims will rise. More product liability adjusters will be required even as many traditional aspects of the auto insurance market shrink.

While some motor vehicle accidents happen because of a manufacturer's error, most are caused by human behavior. These could include actions such as speeding, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and drowsy or distracted driving. If people are injured in an accident and an investigation determines that another driver is responsible for the accident, victims might think that they will get enough compensation to cover their medical bills, lost wages and the cost of vehicle repair or replacement. However, insurance companies might offer little. If this happens, the victims might want to speak to an attorney about their options. This could include filing a lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident.

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