Many amazing technological advances have been made in the past few years. The transition of the cellphone from a mobile telephone to a tiny, powerful computer with multiple functions is just one example. Recently, there has been much anticipation and hype over the so-called self-driving cars. People living in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the country have been excited about the possibility of being able to drive without having to keep their full attention on the road. However, when new technology is not fully developed or performs differently than expected, the possibility of injuries exists.

The term “self-driving” could, at this time, be considered a misnomer. Self-driving technology in consumer vehicles is not designed to allow drivers to sit back and relax, letting the vehicle do all the work. Instead, the technology is meant to augment a driver’s attention and provide certain safety benefits, such as avoiding an accident before the driver’s reflexes take over.

In one tragic case recently, the owner of a Tesla Model S was killed in Florida when the cameras of the car did not recognize a large truck turning onto the interstate. The self-driving car crashed into the truck. The truck driver claimed the other driver had been watching a movie, rather than paying attention to the road. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects began an investigation, the vehicle’s manufacturer stated that driver alertness is important, as this type of technology is still new.

Some consumers may overestimate the actual abilities of newly developed technology, but it is also possible that brand-new products may malfunction or not work correctly at all. If this is the case, those who were injured may have a good reason to purse a products liability case.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, “First death reported in crash involving self-driving car,” Joan Lowy and Tom Krisher, June 30, 2016