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Autonomous cars and accident liability

Every driver in Ohio is responsible for being in control of his or her vehicle and obeying traffic laws at all times. With the future of automobiles set to include autonomous cars, the question of liability in self-driving car crashes is an important one. Autonomous cars are currently in the testing stages by several companies, including Volvo and Google.

Autonomous cars are in development and testing worldwide. In the United States, testing of these cars is currently allowed to be conducted on public roads in only four states. According to Google, 94 percent of car accidents involve human error, but the difficulty in getting individual states to allow public road testing of autonomous cars is in part due to the question of who is liable when an autonomous car is involved in an accident. Recently Google, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have stated that they will accept liability for accidents that are found to be the fault of their driverless cars. Volvo's president has encouraged the U.S. government to make rules about autonomous cars a federal matter rather than allowing the decisions to be made by the individual states.

Testing thus far has shown that autonomous cars have some issues in snowy and rainy conditions, as well as with interpreting hand signals or gestures made by by other drivers and pedestrians. Volvo is planning to let 100 people try out their self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs in Gothenburg, Sweden. The project has been endorsed by the Swedish government.

When someone is injured or killed in a car accident, the fault is not necessarily that of a human driver. In some cases, it can subsequently be determined that a vehicle defect was responsible. An attorney for an injured victim can review the police accident investigation report, eyewitness testimony, vehicle repair logs and other evidence in order to pinpoint the party or parties that should be held financially responsible for the injured victim's damages.

Source: Volvo Car Group, "Volvo Car Group initiates world unique Swedish pilot project with self-driving cars on public roads", Dec. 2, 2013

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