Michigan Governor Rick Snyder made history when he signed the nation’s first driverless car bill into law in November 2016. The controversial new law allows autonomous cars to be tested and operated on Michigan roads. Autonomous cars have no steering wheels, brake pedal or accelerator. saying “Michigan put the world on wheels and now we are leading the way in transforming the auto industry. We are becoming the mobility industry, shaped around technology that makes us more aware and safer as we’re driving. By recognizing that and aligning our state’s policies as new technology is developed, we will continue as the leader the rest of the world sees as its biggest competition.” In a perfect world, drivers would seamlessly transition to driverless vehicles; however, there are glaring issues surrounding liability and insurance that have yet to be addressed. The bills in Michigan that became law do not establish whether a driverless vehicle manufacturer would be responsible in the event one of their cars caused an accident where someone was seriously injured or killed. Even more troublesome is the lack of an insurance requirement for these highly automated vehicles. Without any established responsibility or insurance requirement, the families and victims of accidents involving driverless cars would be left to regular health insurance to cover the cost of length hospitalizations, multiple surgeries and other treatments and therapies that could be needed for decades. Families would quickly become overwhelmed by unpaid medical bills while insurers determine which services are covered. In the meantime, patients suffer because they can no longer afford essential medical treatment. The federal government took a clear stance on manufacturer responsibility in accidents involving driverless cars in the U.S. Department of Transportation ‘Federal Automated Vehicles Policy’ that establishes manufacturer liability be requiring that self-driving cars carry a five million dollar liability policy to cover damages due to accidents. As Michigan moves forward on the cutting-edge of automated transportation, it’s important to thoroughly address issues of safety and liability long before these vehicles are made available to ride-sharing services or for sale to the general public.
These vehicles hold exciting future potential for increasing safety on our roadways, and for the diversification of our state economy—but, safety should always be a high priority. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, it is important to seek experienced legal counsel as soon as you are able. Miranda Bailey-Quick and the knowledgeable staff at Harris Law proudly offer personal injury legal services to families in Gaylord and throughout Northern Michigan. When you need dedicated, caring legal help, call us today at 231.347.4444 or fill out the free consultation form in the sidebar.