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.

Recent Blog Posts

  • commercial trucks on highway

    Vicarious Liability Torts in Commercial Truck Accidents

    If a negligent driver causes a commercial truck accident, the trucking company can be burdened with vicarious liability torts. The company can be held liable for the driver’s negligence under the legal tenet known as respondeat superior, a Latin phrase that translates as “let the superior make the response.” This concept transfers the truck driver’s […]

    Read More
  • california fire possibly caused by utility company under strict liability

    3 Fascinating Strict Liability Tort Cases in Sacramento

    Tort liability in personal injury cases is most often based on acts of negligence, but there are exceptions. Sometimes the responsible party is held to the strict liability tort standard, meaning that a finding of negligence or malicious intent is not required. The most common types of strict liability tort cases are based on: Product […]

    Read More
  • student injured at school - parents suing for negligence

    Suing a School for Negligence: What You Need to Know

    A negligence-based lawsuit against a school can have unique complications, depending on the type of institution it is. Overall, teachers, school administrators, and other staff have a “duty of care,” meaning they must take reasonable steps to avoid and prevent circumstances likely to cause personal injury to a student. Some reasons you might want to […]

    Read More
  • Sacramento Office
  • 333 University Avenue, Suite 200
  • Sacramento, CA
  • (916) 756-0772
  • Roseville Office
  • 1544 Eureka Road, Suite 120
  • Roseville, CA
  • (916) 788-1960
  • Oakland Office
  • 1300 Clay St, Suite 600
  • Oakland, CA
  • (510) 962-4610

© 2019 Penney Law, Serving the Areas of Sacramento, Roseville, Fairfield, Modesto, Stockton & Oakland California