In the last few years, some auto manufacturers (like Tesla) and rideshare companies (like Uber) have pursued autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles in their fleet. Now, according to recent news reports, autonomous vehicle technology could possibly be coming to city buses in the near future. While we all applaud advances that improve people’s lives, we are also reminded that, when malfunctions and mistakes cause accidents, people may be left with life-altering (or life-ending) injuries. If that’s you, be sure you have a knowledgeable Chicago car accident attorney representing you to get you the compensation you need.
Back in November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was planning to spend roughly $5 million on an autonomous pilot program. The hope is eventually to utilize autonomous buses in the Lincoln Tunnel’s exclusive bus lane. This technology, according to Port Authority estimates, “could allow for 200 more buses to run during each morning weekday rush,” providing a ride for an extra 10,000 commuters from New Jersey to Manhattan.
In other cities, self-driving buses are already in operation. Jacksonville, Florida and Las Vegas each have self-driving shuttles that run in special shuttle-only lanes. In Gainesville, Florida, the city is already testing driverless shuttle buses that, if all goes according to plan, would run on the city’s streets and roads before the end of 2020. Gainesville would be the first city to have autonomous buses on its roads in the United States, according to a WUFT report.
Of course, with the many benefits, there is also the potential for problems. We’ve already seen that autonomous and semi-autonomous cars have caused many accidents, causing numerous injuries and several deaths. Whether it is a malfunction in the individual vehicle or a flaw in the software that controls the vehicle, errors by an autonomous bus have the potential to cause accidents, which can lead to injuries or fatalities, especially if those accidents involve pedestrians or bicyclists.
How autonomous buses can go wrong and how you can get compensated
When that happens, the injured person (or family of the deceased) will likely need financial compensation to meet their needs. The legal system may be able to provide that relief, but it is important to recognize whom you should (and should not) sue in your case. If your injuries were the result of a bus that experienced a component malfunction, then you may be able to obtain financial compensation from the company that manufactured the bus and the company that manufactured the part (which may be two totally independent business entities.)
If the bus that injured you did not perform as designed, not due to a mechanical malfunction, but due to an error in operation (such as failing to stop for you in a crosswalk,) then that may present a different array of potential defendants who are liable. These may include the bus manufacturer and also the entity that designed and developed the computerized software that guided the bus. (Again, these may be two completely separate entities, and each may be liable.)
If the autonomous bus that hit you was a city bus, then that city government may also potentially be liable. In some situations, governmental entities, however, may be immune, meaning that you are not allowed to sue them in civil court and collect an award of damages. Your experienced attorney can help guide you toward identifying the right defendants.
The potential influences of automation and artificial intelligence continue to expand. This technology is still very human in many ways, with human designers that create it and human executives that authorize its use. When those humans make mistakes and flawed autonomous vehicles causes injuries, those who are hurt may be entitled to compensation. If you were hurt in an accident involving an autonomous bus or other self-driving vehicle, reach out to the knowledgeable Chicago car accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca about your legal options. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.