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Self-driving cars have become a reality.
Google is testing them in California and Arizona. Baidu recently announced its plan to bring them to the masses in as few as five years. And now lawmakers and lawyers are wrestling with the legal implications they'll be delivering.
Among the questions needing to be answered, who is responsible when a self-driving car crashes?
The answer isn't clear.
When a crash occurs involving a vehicle driven by a human, it's typically pretty easy to determine who is a fault. But if a computer crashes and a self-driving vehicle rear ends another vehicle, there could be a whole host of defendants.
Computer programmers, their employers, mapping companies and even states allowing self-driving cars on their roads could be held responsible for crashes.
Owners of the vehicle could also find themselves held liable for crashes. In fact, the way many laws are currently written, that's the most likely scenario. In Nevada, if you loan your car to a friend or family member, their crash could become your problem.
Sure, they are generally covered by your insurance--but it's still your insurance.
The bottom line is, you could find yourself in trouble for a crash you were powerless to prevent. That's why the first crash involving a self-driving car will be so important.
It will set precedent for any forthcoming cases. It's likely the automobile's owner will be held responsible initially. It's also highly likely the manufacturer or technology firm that developed the automobile's software will be sued--likely by the car's owner.
And because existing law doesn't account for self-driving cars, the entire case will likely be tied up in court for a while. That's the bad news. The good news is it will likely force lawmakers to address the issue. In fact, this is already happening on some levels.
Late last year, California lawmakers proposed rules for driverless vehicles, requiring that a human always be available and ready to take control of the car. This move by California lawmakers could provide some clarity about who is to blame for self-driving car accidents even though there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
The bottom line is, if you are involved in a crash or accident involving a driverless car, you're still going to want to connect with an attorney.
If you've been injured in an automobile crash, connect with the auto accident injury attorneys Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez today. Download the free auto accident checklist and call 702-388-GGRM (4476) for a free consultation to ensure you and your rights are protected.
No car accident is ideal, but having proper insurance can help cushion significant financial damage if an unfortunate event does occur.
Here are a few things to consider to ensure you're properly insured:
- Do You Only Have Liability Insurance? Liability insurance is required in all fifty states. This means this is the bare minimum insurance required to legally operate your motor vehicle. If you cause an accident where someone else is hurt, injury and property liability insurance will take care of the damage you caused up to a certain limit. Damages beyond this limit, however, could end up being your responsibility to pay, which can often make this minimal insurance quite costly in the event of an unforeseen accident.
- Are You Only Considering Your Monthly Premiums? Although budgetary constraints are often the driving forces for people when purchasing car insurance, it's important to also look at the long-term costs. Minimum coverage is typically much cheaper than more in-depth coverage, but the peace of mind that comes with adequate insurance often pays for itself.
Consider a scenario where your property damage liability limit is $15,000, but you caused an accident whereby a brand new $65,000 SUV was totaled. The per-month savings on your premium will cost you greatly over the long run whereas a bit more money monthly would cover the cost of the accident.
- Other Coverage’s
- Collision - Protects against damage, regardless of fault.
- Comprehensive - Protects you against non-collision damage such as fire or vandalism.
- Uninsured Motorists - Protects you when you incur damage caused by a motorist who isn't insured.
There it goes rolling down your driveway – your trusty car in the hands of a driver of undetermined trustworthiness.
If beads of sweat are forming on your brow, or if your toes are curling in your shoes with worry, it's probably a good sign you should flag down the driver and revoke your offer to loan your car, even if it's "only" a short trip.
Better to engage in this temporarily awkward encounter than to suffer the stress, inconvenience and financial risk that could ensue if that person gets into an accident in your car. The truth is: there are some people you just shouldn't lend your car to. Here's why:
Consider the logistics of car accidents
It's true, traffic accidents hinge on who is at fault for the accident. If someone is responsible for causing an accident, he or she probably will be found at fault for it. But it's equally true it's sometimes possible to be held responsible for an accident if you aren't present at the time of an accident – cases that hinge on "mitigating circumstances." Unfair as it may sound, you could be held liable for the driving mistakes of others, especially if it can be proven you were aware of the potential for these mistakes before you put your trusty vehicle in the hands of someone else.
Then there is the issue of insurance. You might think loaning your vehicle is a safe choice because your car insurance policy covers the car, not the person driving it. Unless someone is specifically excluded from coverage on your car, this is true. But if someone driving your car rear-ends another driver, under the terms of your liability coverage, you still would be required to:
- File a claim with your insurance company
- Pay the specified deductible
- Pay any ensuing rate increases because of the accident
While these steps can be both time-consuming and potentially expensive, there could be more trouble in your rear-view mirror if the damages exceed the limits stipulated in your car insurance policy. In this case, the driver's insurance coverage might pay the difference – if the person is insured.
Put on the brakes
For all reasons, it makes sense to avoid these risks altogether and decline putting your vehicle in the hands of:
- Drunken drivers, for whose actions behind the wheel you could be held accountable.
- Underage or unlicensed persons, Anyone driving must have a valid driver’s license.
- Elderly persons, especially those who are in declining health or are dependent on medications impairing their responsiveness behind the wheel.
- Sickly persons, even if they ask to use your car to get the medication they need to feel better. If you can't make the trip yourself, better to hire a service to deliver the medication to your door.
- Employees performing job-related duties, in which case you, as the employer, will be held responsible for damages stemming from an accident.
- Incompetent, irresponsible or otherwise unfit drivers – the kind who inspire beads of sweat and toe-curling anxiety. Follow your gut instincts; if the thought of loaning your car causes you anxiety, keep your car keys in your pocket.
Despite your best efforts to protect it, your car could be involved in an accident at some point, in which case it's vital you marshal the best attorneys in Nevada to your side. You can find them at Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez. Their experience in handling car accident cases is unparalleled. Be sure to read their helpful guide, “6 Questions to Ask About Your Car Insurance,” before you roll down your driveway to meet them for a consultation that will put your mind at ease.
Many automobile accidents are caused by the driver’s behavior, but others are caused by a defect in the vehicle. In these accidents, the manufacturer, not the driver, maybe at fault for putting a defective product on the road.
If you’ve been injured because of a car defect -- or it caused the death or injury of a loved one -- you may be able to file a claim and recover damages. In contrast to many other lawsuits, you and your personal injury attorney won’t have to prove the company was negligent. Instead, you’ll need to prove a defect existed and it caused the accident and your injuries.
Types of car defects
The defect can fall into one of the following categories:
- A design defect- when the vehicle’s design was flawed in such a way it causes injury when used in a normal manner.
- A manufacturing defect- the design doesn’t cause the defect, but the vehicle is incorrectly manufactured.
- A warning defect- when the presence of a defect and the resulting danger is known, but the public isn’t properly notified.
Car defect cases can be complicated. A personal injury lawyer can help prove the defect exists and determine who was at fault. In some cases, a group of plaintiffs who have been harmed because of the same issue can take legal action together in a class action suit.
Your lawyer can help you preserve the vehicle for evidence and bring in experts to examine that the defect exists and caused the accident.
Proving your damages
You’ll need to be able to prove as a result of the defect, you suffered harm. This may be in the form of injuries resulting in pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. You may not be able to enjoy life to the same degree after your accident, depending on the extent and nature of your injuries. You may also be unable to continue to work and may face ongoing rehabilitation costs.
Documentation such as doctor’s reports, bills for surgeries, medication, and testimony from the experts who examined the car can all help prove your case and injuries.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. These are designed to punish the defendant in cases involving particularly troubling behavior such as acting in a fraudulent or malicious manner. These could apply if, for example, an automobile manufacturer knew its design was defective but did nothing to correct it and did not notify the public about cars already sold.
Contact Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez at 702-388-GGRM (4476) for a free consultation if you’ve been injured as a result of a car defect, and download our free accident checklist, "8 Surprising Things to Know After a Car Accident."
Rear-end motor vehicle accidents occur when the front bumper of a vehicle im pacts the rear bumper of the car ahead. It’s one of the most common types of motor vehicle accidents, causing large numbers of fatalities, injuries, and substantial damage to the vehicles involved.
About 500,000 people are injured each year in rear-end collisions, and about 1,700 are killed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Negligence in rear-end collisions
In most cases, rear-end accidents are caused by negligence. This means one or more drivers failed to act as a reasonable person would.
Some examples of negligence that commonly lead to rear-end accidents include:
- Distracted or inattentive driving
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failure to follow at a safe distance
- Driving while overly fatigued
- Weather conditions, including wet roads or fog
When negligence is shared
In many cases, the driver who rear ends the vehicle in front of them is completely at fault for the accident. In other cases, however, the drivers may share responsibility. This can occur under circumstances such as the following:
- The front car’s driver enters suddenly from a side street
- The front car’s driver suddenly merges into the other driver’s lane
Contributory negligence in Nevada
Some states, including Nevada, follow the concept of contributory negligence in lawsuits. This means, even if you were somewhat at fault for an accident, you may still be able to recover damages, but they can be reduced by the amount you’re found to be at fault.
If, for example, you’re found to be at 10% fault, the damages you recover will be reduced by 10%. However, if you’re found to be more at fault than the other driver – 51% at fault – you won’t be able to recover any damages.
Seeking medical attention
If you’ve been involved in a rear end collision, you may feel fine, but it’s best to seek medical attention. Some injuries aren’t immediately apparent. Soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons can be prone to injury during rear-end collisions, but they can be more difficult to detect than broken bones.
In addition, concussions are quite common in this type of injury, since your head may be abruptly jerked. In some cases, concussions can lead to ongoing physical, emotional, and cognitive issues significantly impacting your quality of life.
Contact Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez for a free consultation if you’ve been in a rear-end collision, and download our free accident checklist, "8 Surprising Things to Know After a Car Accident."
When you're involved in a car accident, a police report contains valuable information that can help if you decide to file a claim against the other driver.
When should the police be called?
If you’re involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, you should call the police. You can also call for accidents not involving injuries, if you want documentation of the facts surrounding the incident.
This represents a recent change for Las Vegas Metro police. In 2014, they stopped responding to accidents that didn’t involve injuries or suspected impairment. This policy was reversed in January of 2016, allowing drivers to call 311 for non-injury crashes in Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County and 911 for accidents with serious or life-threatening injuries.
What is a police report?
When you call the police, the responding officer will gather information, such as the involved parties' names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance coverage. The officer will interview each party as well as any witnesses, will gather any physical evidence and take photographs of the damage. In addition to the basic contact information and statements, the police report will also include the following information:
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- A diagram of the accident
- Any citations issued or laws violated
- The officer's opinion as to who was at fault
The officer’s opinion regarding fault may be taken into consideration, but insurance companies will usually conduct their own investigations.
How do I get a copy of the police report?
The responding officer will usually give you a receipt at the scene of the accident that bears a number associated with the police report concerning your accident. It will also have contact information for the local law enforcement agency handling your case. You can contact them and pay a small fee – usually around $15 – to get a copy of your report.
After an insurance claim is filed, you can also check with your insurer to see if they have obtained a copy of the report. If so, you can get a copy at no charge.
The police report’s information contains evidence that can be helpful when filing a claim against the other driver with the help of a personal injury attorney. The statements, physical evidence, and evidence of any laws that were broken – as well as the officer's unbiased third-party opinion – can help establish your case.
If you’d like to discuss a motor vehicle accident claim, contact Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez at 702-388-GGRM (4476) for a free consultation, and download our free accident checklist for more information about what you need to know when you’re in a car accident.
Having a party at your home is a great way to get friends and family together for a special event such as a birthday or just to enjoy one another’s company. Unfortunately, opening your home to guests also means opening yourself up to liability issues if someone is hurt on your property.
These steps can help keep your guests safe while protecting you from a costly lawsuit:
Monitor alcohol consumption
- If you’re serving alcohol, you may be held responsible if your guests cause an alcohol-related accident. Monitor guests to make sure they don’t drink too much. If they do, don’t let them have any more to drink and take their keys. You can arrange for a cab or other transportation to take them home, or have them stay the night in a spare room.
- Be careful if there are children or teenagers and you are serving alcohol. You may want to have them stay at a friend’s house during the party.
- Offer beverages other than alcohol and serve plenty of food.
Inspect your property
- Walk around your property, looking for potential hazards such as loose railings or broken steps. Fix these issues before you allow guests on your property. You could be held liable if a guest is injured, especially if you knew about a hazard and failed to fix it.
- If you have a dog or cat, consider keeping them in a crate or room clearly blocked off. Even a pet who’s normally docile may become anxious and bite or scratch when they’re around a lot of noise and unfamiliar people.
- If you have a pool not being used during the party, make sure it’s behind a securely locked fence.
- If you’re letting guests swim, make sure the pool is clean and drains, ladders, and other elements are in good condition. If children are present, ask several responsible adults to monitor the pool.
Check your homeowner’s insurance
- If a guest is injured on your property, your homeowner’s insurance may help pay their claim. Verify your insurance is in effect and all premiums have been paid.
- Make sure you have all the coverage you need. For example, if you have a pool, make sure it’s covered under your policy.
- Check your policy’s limits. If someone is seriously injured on your property and needs extensive medical care, the costs can be very high. Make sure your limits are high enough to offer a reasonable level of protection.
- Notify your insurer as soon as possible if someone is injured on your property.
If someone is injured on your property, contact the accident injury attorneys at Greenman, Goldberg, Raby & Martinez at 702-388-GGRM (4476) for a free consultation.
Getting in a car accident is very traumatic, no matter the situation. But in a leased car, the scenario can be even more troublesome. Like leasing an apartment, leasing a car gives you certain rights: You have the right to possess and use the car just as if you own it during the lease term. However, the leasing company still owns "your" car. That can bring up a number of legal considerations and obligations if you get in an accident.
If you have an accident in your leased vehicle
Your lease agreement will specify your exact obligations to the leasing company if you have an accident. You will almost certainly need to:
- Document the damage
The car will be inspected for damage by a service center (sometimes with an accompanying inspector) the leasing company chooses. This ensures the leasing company gets an accurate assessment and estimate for repair of the damage to the vehicle. This is also necessary in the event any insurance claims are filed.
- Have adequate car insurance
State-required minimum insurance
All states require drivers carry minimum insurance coverage; such as liability and uninsured motorist coverage, (learn more about the coverage you should carry with our car insurance video series) specified by each state.
Additional coverage as required by your leasing company
However, your lease may also specify you must carry additional insurance to cover vehicle damage, including comprehensive and collision insurance.
Should you get gap insurance?
If the vehicle is totaled in the accident, it won't be repaired. Instead, the responsible party's insurance company will only pay an amount equal to the vehicle's actual cash value (ACV), which is its current market value.
Unfortunately, any ACV payment will probably not cover what you still owe on the lease. A gap insurance policy will cover the "gap" between the ACV payment and what you still owe, so you won’t need to come up with the extra yourself.
Even if your lease does not require you to carry additional insurance, it's a good idea. Remember, you're still responsible for any damage to the vehicle – or for paying what you owe on the vehicle – if you're found at fault in the accident.
- Getting the vehicle fixed
Depending on the damage and the kind of insurance you have, you may get a lump sum of cash to fix the car equal to the final estimate amount. If you have a deductible, that amount will be subtracted from the total repair estimate. If you are not at fault, you should be able to recover the full estimate amount from the other driver's insurance company.
Do you know what to do if you're ever in a car accident? Download our free accident checklist, so you know what steps to take. If you have already been involved in an accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez for a free consultation, or call 702-388-4476.
Without a doubt, modern transportation – that is, planes trains and automobiles – are some of the safest modes of travel ever devised. Nevertheless, avoidable mistakes are made in the public sector, costing people their property and their lives. Here are a few things to know if you are injured in a mass transit personal injury situation:
What constitutes a mass transit personal injury?
Mass transit injuries include any type of personal harm that occurs while riding on, or being hit by, a mass transit vehicle. This definition includes private and public buses – even school buses. Subways, trains and trolleys of any type carrying the public are also included. In addition, taxis and private limousines for hire qualify. Finally, airplanes and helicopters are also considered mass transit.
What are the responsibilities of mass transit providers?
When it comes to mass transit vehicles, there are "standard of care" rules that apply to the operator. These rules include:
- Keeping passengers reasonably safe by using the properly designated safety equipment and by properly maintaining all vehicles.
- Having only fully-trained professionals operate the vehicles at any time.
- Providing security measures when and where necessary.
- Keeping all entrance and exit areas safe, secure and free from debris.
What does the term "common carrier" mean?
There is a significant distinction between the laws governing mishaps in private and public "common carriers" in the state of Nevada. In fact, the law actually varies greatly depending on what type of transportation was being used at the time of the accident. The laws are quite strict for public transportation but slightly more lenient for private carriers. In either event, a victim should seek legal counsel in the event of any accident involving a common carrier.
What are the statute of limitations and the limits on damages in these types of cases?
In the state of Nevada, a personal injury case involving a common carrier generally carries a two year statute of limitations to file a case for compensation. Otherwise the appropriate court will dismiss the case. In addition, there are a variety of limits on the amount of damages that can be recovered in these types of cases. Again, finding the right legal counsel will assure that you file in time and obtain the maximum amount due to you.
For more information on these mass transit and other accident-related legal issues, please contact us at Greenberg, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez. Call 702-388-4476 to schedule a free consultation.