Driverless Cars and Liability: A Podcast on Legal Questions Around Autonomous Vehicles

Nissan autonomous car prototype (using a Nissan Leaf electric car) exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show 2014. (Photo: Norbert Aepli, Switzerland Wikimedia) Nissan autonomous car prototype (using a Nissan Leaf electric car) exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show 2014. (Photo: Norbert Aepli, Switzerland Wikimedia)

Autonomous vehicles have been in the news a lot lately. Tesla Motors was just hit with a class action lawsuit alleging that its autopilot technology puts drivers in danger when engaged. And in March, the California Department of Motor Vehicles released proposed regulations for fully autonomous vehicles—the kind that wouldn’t have a driver at all. It was a move that left a lot of people thinking that the future of transportation is getting here a lot faster than we thought.

But with all this advanced technology, is the law ready to deal with who should be held liable when there’s a crash? In this podcast, we hear from insurance litigator Dennis Cusack of Farella Braun + Martel, Ford Motor Co. in-house counsel Emily Frascaroli, and Baker McKenzie’s Lothar Determann, who has written about the “open” driverless car. If there’s one takeaway, it’s that things are about to get complicated for automakers.

“I think the presumption we’re going to have out the outset is that, if there is an accident with a fully autonomous car, the car and the manufacturer, are going to be at fault,” Cusack said.

Listen to the full podcast here.