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Autonomous cars may change liability determination

Self-driving automobiles are still rare on New York roads, but they are becoming increasingly common. Even vehicles that don't have complete self-driving functions have limited ones, such as the ability to park automatically. Along with changing the way that people drive, cars that are driven by computer software may also change the way that insurance claims and lawsuits are handled as well as creating a few new risks that aren't associated with standard vehicles.

When someone has been in an accident, it is normal to attempt to determine the party at fault. This usually involves figuring out who make a mistake while driving or broke a law, such as by running a stop sign. However, if computers are driving vehicles, the focus may switch to determining if there was a failure in the software running the vehicle.

Self-driving cars may also allow for new risks while eliminating issues of people driving while distracted or intoxicated. If car thieves are able to hack a vehicle's software, they could remotely drive it to where they are. Additionally, kidnapping someone in a vehicle by taking over the computer software controlling it could be possible.

Although changes to the way that fault is determined in accidents may be coming, it is still usually individuals that are held liable for crashes in most accidents, such as drivers who are intoxicated, speeding, distracted by a cellphone or negligent in some other fashion. In many cases, however, the responsible driver's insurance company will offer an inadequate settlement. In such an event, an injured victim may want legal help in seeking a more appropriate amount of compensation.

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