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


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