Self-Driving Trucks: A Reality of Tomorrow

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Legally reviewed by Eric Feldman on November 11, 2022 Eric Feldman is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

It’s no secret that self-driving cars are the future of transportation, and with this fact will come more self-driving car accidents. What about self-driving trucks? We’ve all seen movies where self-driving vehicles are the norm, but it’s not just fiction anymore. Self-driving trucks are already being tested on our roads today, and they’re only going to become more common in the years to come.

There are many benefits to self-driving trucks. For one, computers don’t get tired, meaning that the limitations set by FMCSA’s Hours of Service will not be necessary when human fatigue is no longer a factor, and our nation’s supply chains will not need to take rest breaks. They may also improve safety and save human lives by reducing human error, which is responsible for the majority of truck accidents.

However, self-driving trucks also come with their own set of risks. If a computer fails, it could cause a very serious accident. The reality, as it stands right now, is that self-driving platforms are not perfect, and while it is all but certain that autonomous tractor-trailers are the way of the future, it is also certain that accidents between humans and self-driving semi-trucks are also coming.

1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service that can help you if you’ve been involved in an accident with a self-driving truck. We will put you in touch with the right lawyers and doctors who can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 1-800-Injured today for a free consultation with an experienced truck accident attorney today.

When Can We Expect Autonomous Semi-Trucks?

Driverless trucks already exist, and they are already being tested in a number of locations such as deliveries between a Walmart warehouse and a retail store in Arkansas, and there are countless other examples of these futuristic trucks being put into action across the country. However, neither technology nor legislation has reached the point where we see these trucks becoming a common sight on our highways. That said, it’s coming, and it may be sooner than we expect.

Torc Robotics, a subsidiary of Daimler Truck, is beginning testing of an SAE Level 4 (meaning the vehicle does not require human interaction or intervention for operations) 18-wheeler that’s been in development for years, and is partnering with Schneider National to launch a pilot program testing these trucks with actual freight.

The technology behind autonomous vehicles is still very much in its infancy, and while there have been significant advancements made in recent years, there are still many challenges that need to be overcome before driverless cars can become a reality for the masses. In addition to the technological challenges, there are also legal and regulatory hurdles that need to be addressed.

How Will Accidents With Autonomous Trucks be Handled?

There is no way to say with certainty how autonomous commercial truck accidents will be handled since there is currently no precedent for this situation, but the following examples should give you an idea of where these situations look to be headed in the future. 

Remember that no matter how these cases are ultimately classified and filed, the most important step for you to take as a victim (after getting appropriate medical care) is to connect with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the rest of the process for getting the compensation you deserve.

Trucking Company Liability

The first thing to understand is that, in many cases, the trucking company will be liable for accidents involving their autonomous trucks. This is because the truck will be considered a “commercial vehicle” and thus subject to all the same rules and regulations as any other commercial vehicle on the road. Much like with a human driver behind the wheel, the vehicle will need to have adequate insurance coverage including a commercial liability policy, which typically exceeds $1 million limits for 18-wheelers.

Human Error

However, there will be plenty of circumstances where the human driver of a passenger vehicle may be found at fault in an accident with an autonomous truck. For example, if the driver of a passenger car rear-ends an autonomous truck that is stopped at a red light, it is very likely that the driver of the car will be found at fault for the accident.

As with most insurance claims, the insurer will likely work to pin as much possible fault on the victim in order to reduce their financial liability. This is why it’s so important to have an experienced truck accident attorney on your side who can help you navigate the often complex legal landscape and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries.

Autonomous Truck Malfunctions

Still more, there will almost certainly be times when the manufacturer of the self-driving truck is held liable for errors in their manufacturing and development processes that may lead to malfunctions.

In cases of defective product accidents, it is important to seek the help of an experienced product liability attorney who can help you navigate through the process of filing a claim and getting the compensation you deserve. This will be particularly important in this instance when the legal action will be navigating through essentially uncharted legal waters.

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney After a Truck Accident

No matter what the circumstances of your accident may be, it is always in your best interest to seek the help of an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. They can help you protect your legal rights and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries.

After an accident, it can feel nearly impossible to handle the paperwork, interviews, and exams that come with an insurance claim on your own, but when you have an attorney representing you, that won’t be the case. You can stay focused on your recovery while your attorney works to make sense of this situation and prepare to get the compensation you rightfully deserve after an accident caused by an autonomous semi-truck.

At 1-800-Injured, we are here to help connect personal injury victims with the experienced attorneys they need to get the justice they deserve. We connect victims with lawyers who have extensive experience handling all types of truck accident cases. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.