Automated Cars, Legal Liability, and Trolley Problems

Web Admin - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

driverless car liability, Rolling Meadows car acciddent lawyerAlthough driverless cars were squarely in the realm of science fiction until recently, Google and other companies are moving towards making them a reality at a surprisingly rapid pace. As beneficial as these cars may prove to be, there are also concerns about them from a legal standpoint. One of the major issues is the question of who the law should hold responsible in the event of a traffic accident. There are also separate concerns about legal liability and ethics when driverless cars face difficult decisions, such as in the famous Trolley Problem.

General Liability Issues

One of the biggest legal issues related to driverless cars is the question of liability for accidents. With ordinary cars, liability is usually limited to one of the drivers, but that system would not work with driverless cars for obvious reasons. Many people's first instinct is to place liability on the company that makes the car. However, there are a variety of issues with that. First, it is possible that the accident with a driverless car was not the result of error by the manufacturer, but a problem with upkeep on the part of the owner. If the car's owner did not keep it properly maintained and that resulted in an accident, it would be unusual to put liability on the car's manufacturer. Beyond that, placing that much possible liability on the company could potentially cripple the development of the driverless cars.

The other competing theory is to treat driverless cars much like we treat cars now, and require people to insure them. This would remove liability from the possibly innocent owners, but it would come at the cost of increasing how expensive driverless cars are.

The Trolley Problem

A related issue is the question of how driverless cars would deal with the Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem is an ethical dilemma in which a person is standing at a railroad switch, and they see a train coming. They know the train is going to hit five people on its current track, but the person at the switch has the option to throw the switch, sending it down a different track and only killing one person. Although it is an ethical dilemma, it may have important legal ramifications.

For instance, suppose a child darts out in front of a driverless car, and the car’s only option to avoid the child is to crash into something else, likely injuring the passengers. The car would need to make that decision, and definitely injure either the child or the passengers. The law would then need to determine whether the victim of the car's decision would have a claim against the manufacturer.

Although driverless car accidents are still a few years off, ordinary car accidents can still cause serious injuries. If you have recently been hurt in a car crash, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves clients in many northwest suburban towns, such as Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Des Plaines. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Recent Posts


Barrington attorney elder law Arlington Heights trucking lawyer Des Plaines medical malpractice attorney ObamaCare Arlington Heights employment attorney unpaid overtime probate fees fatal car accidents minimum wage Illinois motorcycle accident lawyer drug crime installment contracts DMV privacy Illinois medical malpractice case Rolling Meadows criminal attorney distracted driving accidents subcontractor BUI rollover car crashes anesthesia errors Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorneys Illinois Illinois injury lawyer Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act unpaid assessment Illinois employment laws employment law insurance claim dispute attorney involuntary manslaughter business litigation PTSD personal injury attorney Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act food poisoning Home Remodeling Repair Act IRS Des Plaines tax law firm estate planning for college students drunk driving statistics expungement Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers trucking accident lawyers eluding a police officer digital assets, digital fiduciary, estate planning, digital content, Long Grove estate planning lawyers DGAA civil litigation Barrington medical malpractice lawyers criminal defense ken apicella Palatine Attorney home inspection lawyer Arlington Heights car crash attorneys Arlington Heights estate planning attorney Palatine civil attorney Des Plaines personal injury attorney bicycle accidents Crystal Lake car accident lawyer Inverness real estate attorney natural gas explosion Liquor Control Act condo association privacy laws power of attorney Legal Info Chicago insurance claim attorneys rollover accidents employee misclassification Illinois small business Illinois business law atorneys life insurance Inverness elder law lawyer guardianship attorney auto accidents insurance negligence Schaumburg criminal law attorney Palatine injury attorney appealing an insurance claim murder Crystal Lake business law attorneys Palatine criminal defense lawyer Deer Park medical malpractice attorney Arlington Heights car accident lawyer Schaumburg real estate lawyer trench injuries liens contracts pedestrian accident accidental death benefits Deer Park accident attorney estate tax Des Plaines real estate lawyer insurance denials Barrington Traffic Lawyer breach of contract IRA trust transfer Buffalo Grove personal injury lawyer Illinois insurance disputes caregiver llinois Real Estate Lawyers Association Illinois wills and trusts attorneys DUI defense pregnant women Buffalo Grove car accident lawyer gift taxes rent to own real estate contracts commercial leases Kenilworth estate planning attorneys senior citizens ACA Schaumburg employment attorney Crystal lake insurance dispute attorney Palatine law firm Chicago car accident lawyer Inverness insurance attorney agent employment lawyer car crashes Barrington litigation attorney Arlington Heights tax lawyer Barrington drug crime attorney Illinois LLC creation traffic violations defense pizza emoji deadly crashes trauma after an accident Rolling Meadows insurance lawyer defective products lawyer overtime pay social media after death Illinois insurance claims lawyers Rolling Meadows traffic attorney BAC trusts employee discrimination Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyer construction accidents Barrington employment law firm Employment Discrimination Law Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyers suspended license swimming pools Chicago employment lawyer Palatine employment law lawyer distracted driving accident victims real estate attorneys insurance claim denial Schaumburg injury lawyer Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Inverness injury lawyer back injuries Schaumburg elder law lawyer mortgage Schaumburg wrongful death attorney Chicago estate planning spinal cord injury brain injury DNR dram shop law medical malpractice claims Palatine insurance lawyer living trust vs will POA Rolling Meadows criminal lawyer truck collisions Des Plaines pet law attorney Schaumburg criminal attorney Buffalo Grove law firm Buffalo Grove probate lawyer traffic laws Des Plaines Traffic Lawyer criminal head on collisions Inverness probate lawyer probate claims process jet ski Illinois insurance lawyer traffic crimes Illinois rollover accident lawyers Illinois Transfer on Death Instrument jet ski accidents Deer Park traffic lawyer financial advisors Crystal Lake employment lawyer insurance claim delay Crystal Lake medical malpractice lawyer residential real estate personal injury accidents real estate contract Barrington personal injury lawyer texting while driving LLCs Crystal Lake insurance lawyer dealing with problem employees car accidents attorney fees Des Plaines real estate attorney slip and fall vacation home Rolling Meadows insurance attorney severance agreements sexual images driving denied insurance claims insurance agents Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act gift tax exemption, estate planning, estate planning strategies, Illinois estate planning, South Barrington estate planning attorneys Forcible Entry Mount Prospect elder law attorney meal breaks Palatine real estate lawyer Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers, insurance dispute Crystal Lake traffic lawyer traffic tickets probate claims Inverness personal injury attorney Illinois employment law denied insurance claim underinsured motorist Crystal Lake civil litigation lawyer Schaumburg Attorney medical malpractice criminal record wrongful termination Des Plaines insurance attorney Mount Prospect wills and trusts lawyers Schaumburg drug defense lawyer Arlington Heights TBI attorney whistleblower protections holiday statistics estate planning attorney Barrington Illinois estate planning lawyer Long Grove wills and trusts attorneys traffic violations Rolling Meadows tax attorney underage DUI Landlord Tenant Ordinance Crystal Lake injury attorney bicycle dooring accidents GM ignition switches Illinois wrongful termination lawyer Illinois real estate lawyer Barrington civil litigation attorney estate planning Chicago lawyer murder defense DUI attorney Des Plaines drug lawyer Palatine civil litigation lawyer Illinois living will Schaumburg estate attorney Barrington boating accident attorney Des Plaines accident attorney Self-Directed IRA Accounts Arlington Heights Attorney operating agreements Buffalo Grove real estate attorney startup company Arlington Heights criminal lawyer health insurance dispute car crash injuries life insurance lawyer Policy Cancellation Schaumburg construction accident lawyer Schaumburg estate planning lawyer Barrington criminal lawyer Illinois will lawyer insurance claim dispute Fair Labor Standards Act Affordable Care Act in terrorem provision traffic offenses Super Mario tax attorney slip and fall accidents living trust benefits crossover accidents Rolling Meadows marijuana attorney manufacturing Crystal Lake pedestrian accident lawyer comparative negligence motorcycle accident marijuana Crystal Lake pet attorney workers comp construction contracts Palatine business attorney Rolling Meadows real estate attorney criminal law car crash Rolling Meadows employment law attorney uninsured motorist life insurance claims insurance dispute attorney Arlington Heights employment law attorneys defective products DUI DUI penalities Transfer on Death Instrument pedestrian-automobile accident Buffalo Grove employment lawyer Illinois insurance claim attorney Crystal Lake employment attorney hit and run accident Crystal Lake medical malpractice law firm field sobriety test Rolling Meadows business lawyer Illinois red light cameras Inverness corporate attorney Deer Park employment law attorney medical marijuana Crystal Lake tax lawyer medication errors Rolling Meadows employment law attorneys Buffalo Grove insurance claim dispute lawyers Illinois registered agent traumatic brain injury probate process Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyers FSLA Chicago traffic lawyer pedestrian accidents Jay Andrew Deer Park workers compensation lawyer Rolling Meadows car accident lawyers real estate zoning Schaumburg estate planning attorney Inverness DUI lawyer Barrington real estate lawyer BAIID employment attorney license suspension drug possession federal regulations for LLCs unfunded trust nursing home negligence foreclosure Deer Park personal injury lawyer Chicago biking tips Exclusions Illinois job attorney Rolling Meadows drug defense attorney boating DUI Deer Park DUI lawyer insurance claim Colin H. Gilbert reckless homicide Illinois employment lawyer murder charges insurance claims creditors Inverness civil lawyer Schaumburg civil litigation attorney Illinois speeding lawyer Crystal Lake personal injury lawyer Chicago will attorney Illinois real estate Arlington Heights personal injury attorney probate Joliet general practice lawyers surgical mistakes Illinois lawyer estate attorney Palatine corporate attorney fault based insurance Illinois employee rights attorney. federal crimes Illinois workers compensation lawyer Home Sale Contingencies hands free device digital assets product liability Arlington Heights real estate lawyer Illinois defective products attorney disability benefits Palatine traffic lawyer fiduciary rule child safety Arlington Heights traffic attorney marijuana crimes attorney estate planning, digital assets, Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Illinois digital assets, Illinois estate planning, commercial real estate trustee car collision Retaliatory Discharge Barrington employment law attorney insurance adjusters Illinois employment law attorney Buffalo Grove traffic attorney Rolling Meadows personal injury attorney golf accidents capital gains tax Illinois trucking safety healthcare claims Illinois elder law attorney insurance agent negligence Inverness real estate lawyer unauthorized overtime Buffalo Grove traffic lawyers car accident lawyer Rolling Meadows Attorney trust payments small business Palatine construction attorney breathalyzer test Palatine elder law attorney Rolling Meadows corporate lawyer workers compensation benefits college kids clemency new real estate form investment property Palatine drug lawyer mass shooting first degree murder Chicago will attorney, social media platforms, Illinois estate planning lawyer, Illinois tax attorney natural gas Barrington personal injury attorney estate planning trusts institutional trustee Illinois workplace lawyer rumble strips Palatine trusts lawyer dynasty trusts Illinois Human Rights Act Arlington Heights Traffic Lawyer real estate lawyer wills and trusts Illinois corporate lawyer Rolling Meadows probate lawyer Inverness traffic law firm Illinois boating accident lawyer drunk driving Crystal Lake personal injury attorney speeding Schaumburg probate attorney Illinois Smoke Detector Act internet Palatine estate planning lawyer drug crimes commercial leasing Fourth of July loopholes modern family estate planning living trust Arlington Heights medical malpractice lawyer Des Plaines injury law firm Illinois attorney drugs life insurance policy loss of consortium boating accidents Crystal Lake bike accident lawyer Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorney Illinois Sales Representative Act products liability license revocation forming a corporation in Illinois probate lawyer Illinois traffic attorney sexual harassment Long Grove real estate lawyer Rolling Meadows litigation lawyer boating under the influence Palatine personal injury lawyer Class A misdemeanor Illinois home inspection digital evidence Illinois law Arlington Heights accident attorney Rolling Meadows Traffic Lawyer Illinois driving without license Des Plaines claims law firm Rolling Meadows boating crash lawyer Buffalo Grove medical malpractice lawyers employment law, Illinois employment laws consent to a search Palatine probate lawyer traffic accidents Buffalo Grove injury lawyer Long Grove real estate attorney Palatine employment lawyer Illinois workplace discrimination attorney low-ball insurance settlement liability Illinois Probate Act of 1975 estate planning lawyer Illinois estate planning attorney Illinois mortgages wrongful termination, employment law, whistleblower protections, Illinois employment laws, discrimination in the workplace Barrington employment attorney medical malpractice compensation Crystal Lake law firm Palatine corporate law attorneys power of attorney for healthcare traffic deaths Illinois probate lawyer insurance dispute estate plan taxes Illinois employment attorneys rest breaks healthcare civil litigation attorney Crystal Lake employment law attorney Detainer Actions Rolling Meadows accident lawyer insurance dispute, insurance dispute lawyers, insurance claim denial, insurance claim delays, Rolling Meadows insurance dispute attorneys Illinois personal injury homestead rights Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyer Rolling Meadows medical malpractice lawyers Illinois bicycle safety blood alcohol content Illinois estate planning advance healthcare directive Attorney Ken Apicella blended families Palatine punch death fiduciary rule delay Long Grove estate planning texting and driving Des Plaines criminal attorney wrongful death landlord tenant law Buffalo Grove personal injury attorney civil rights violation revenge porn preventable medical errors Chicago attorney IRELA Rolling Meadows traffic law firm Illinois personal injury attorney Schaumburg personal injury lawyers Illinois civil litigation lawyer CAM workplace sexual harassment Chicago employment attorney Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyer Long Grove estate planning attorney Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyers medical malpractice, missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medical mistake, Deer Creek medical malpractice lawyers Schaumburg personal injury lawyer car accident lawyers Schaumburg real estate personal injury lawyer Illinois construction accident attorney car accident Arlington Heights lawyer Do Not Resuscitate Illinois medical malpractice lawyers cell phone tower data filing a medical malpractice claim Whistleblower Claims special needs trust drug crimes lawyer estate planning, death tax, succession plans, business estate plans, Barrington estate planning lawyers Rolling Meadows real estate attorney Des Plaines personal injury lawyer Inverness accident lawyer icy parking lots Crystal Lake accident attorney Mount Prospect real estate lawyer Kenilworth estate planning lawyer denial of life insurance Des Plaines drug crimes lawyer Palatine workers compensation lawyer Schaumburg personal injury attorney insurance attorney insurance disputes comp time Arlington Heights injury attorney TBI Inverness estate planning lawyer Illinois employment law attorneys wage theft real estate leasing living wills Illinois traffic accident lawyer Illinois car accident attorney underfunded trust digital media accounts, estate planning, Arlington Heights estate planning attorney, Des Plaines personal injury lawyers automated cars Rolling Meadows employment attorney Family Medical Leave Act Des Plaines DUI attorney IRA benefits Barrington business law firm Buffalo Grove criminal defense lawyer Illinois insurance attorney cell phone accidents Illinois pedestrian accident attorney digital information insurance claim denials Deer Park real estate law firm liability claims Schaumburg traffic lawyer overtime violations job lawyers South Barrington real estate lawyer license Thanksgiving trucking accidents pedestrian injuries, pedestrian fatality Mt Prospect Attorney Barrington criminal defense lawyer landlord compensatory time Crystal Lake estate planning lawyer Colin Gilbert spinal cord injuries deed transfer Chicago estate planning lawyer FMLA Illinois medical malpractice claim Deer Park motorcycle accident lawyer Palatine employment attorney Riverwoods estate planning lawyer cell phone Barrington injury attorney motorcycle accident lawyer Chicago corporate attorney no contest clauses Illinois wills and trusts Crystal Lake traffic attorney Illinois personal injury lawyers problem employees Chicago trucking accident attorney Crystal Lake medical malpractice attorneys right to work employment law, meal breaks, rest breaks, hotel employees, Des Plaines employment law attorneys Schaumburg corporate attorney Barrington estate planning lawyer Illinois workers compensation attorney Schaumburg employment law attorneys Chicago insurance law firm employee rights Illinois DUI attorney paid sick leave employment contract Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney personal injury Arlington Heights personal injury lawyer Arlington Heights insurance attorney personal injury claim Illinois traffic ticket lawyer pet bites pain and suffering insurance disputes, Illinois insurance disputes, Illinois insurance dispute attorneys, denied insurance claims, Arlington Heights insurance dispute attorneys Kenilworth estate planning attorney changes to mortgage law license reinstatement Illinois business lawyer vacation home fines elder abuse Deer Park criminal attorney Illinois pet lawyer Des Plaines construction accidents, personal injury, wrongful death, Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys, workers' compensation workers compensation bike accident Illinois trusts attorney Illinois employment law firm condo dog bites personal injury, auto accident injuries, delayed injuries, serious injuries, Des Plaines personal injury attorneys Palatine traffic accidents bad faith insurance claims Illinois criminal defense attorney Schaumburg medical malpractice lawyer Rolling Meadows estate planning attorney Rolling Meadows DUI lawyer premises liability Schaumburg car accident attorney irrevocable trust Illinois estate planning law firm insurance denial appeals hiring employees Barrington workers compensation attorney real estate closing caretaker rights South Barrington real estate attorney Des Plaines motorcycle accident attorney personal injury law firm Illinois traffic laws Crystal Lake car accident attorney Des Plaines civil attorney Buffalo Grove corporate attorney Long Grove estate planning attorneys Des Plaines collections attorney independent contractor income distribution deducation Illinois collections attorney traumatic brain injuries School Visitation Rights Act work unions Illinois traffic attorneys owner responsibility Illinois personal injury lawyer Schaumburg insurance lawyers pet law sole proprietorship preventing accidents wills Barrington estate planning attorney corporate law personal injury claims Illinois insurance dispute lawyers Illinois jet ski accident lawyer employees employment contract, employment law, employment at-will, Deer Park employment law attorneys, contract, Deer Park traffic accident attorney pay when paid contract Crystal Lake will lawyer Arlington Heights pedestrian accidents controlled substance foreclosed rental property medical research Illinois medical malpractice attorney