Frank Penney Injury Lawyer’s Paul Hoybjerg on Legal Issues of Self Driving Cars

example of a self-driving car which may prevent car accidents

Many of today’s new cars come with some level of automation, such as pre-charged brakes or adaptive cruise control. But if Elon Musk is correct, cars will be completely autonomous by 2023. What impact will this have on drivers, insurance companies, and the automotive industry?

Penney Law’s own Paul Hoybjerg covers this in a recent issue of The Litigator, a trade publication for Sacramento lawyers. Read his article, “The Self Driving Car: Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Creating a Legal Quandary“.

Contrary to the popular opinion that people love their cars, Hoybjerg explains that millennials are not as attached to the idea of driving as older generations are, and realize that buying cars is (usually) a horrible investment. Uber, Lyft and Apple are among the companies that have invested large sums in the development of self-driving technology.

Fewer Car Collisions Predicted

two cars squeezed into tight parking spotThe promise of self-driving cars comes with the promise of reduced car collisions leading to fewer injuries and auto-related deaths.” – from the article linked above

Other potential benefits include:

  • savings on unproductive commute times 
  • reduced time searching for parking
  • smaller parkings spots for the self-parking car
  • billions in property damage savings
  • reduced insurance premiums

The biggest possible negative effects will be on the insurance industry, defense bars, and car repair centers.

Who Will be Liable in a Car Accident?

sports cars on assembly lineThough less accidents will likely occur over time, there will certainly be exceptions. Currently, liability is typically assumed per some type of negligence on the part of at least one driver. Without drivers, who is to blame when a car accident causing a personal injury occurs?


It may get complicated. Self-driving cars are vulnerable to cyber attacks and hacks, and security will be an issue. The cyber attacker should be held responsible, but there is also a level of responsibility assigned to the manufacturer of the computer system. Each car contains components from a variety of suppliers, so if faulty manufacturing is found to be the cause of an accident, questions of specific liability will need to be resolved.

Sacramento car accident lawyers will have to hone their high-tech investigation skills.

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