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Autonomous Vehicle Manufacturers Push for Limited Liability



While California has demonstrated a friendly posture towards self-driving technology, the state’s DMV recently shot down a planned rule that would have allowed businesses to avoid legal liability for damages resulting from an autonomous vehicle crash, if the autonomous vehicle involved in the collision had not been properly maintained according to standards set forth by the manufacturer.

Put simply, the rule would have allowed manufacturers of self-driving vehicles immunity from liability stemming from a crash, so long as they could show that the vehicle’s radar sensors were muddy, even if the accident was really caused by flawed programming.

After opening up the rule to public comment, the California DMV decided to abandon the rule. While the move doesn’t fundamentally change California’s liberal approach to self-driving vehicles, it does provide some clarity on California’s expectation that self-driving car manufacturers develop the technology with the assumption that errors in programming will open the door to costly litigation, in the event that there is an accident.

By Attorney Michael D. Karp of Karp & Iancu, S.C.

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