Autonomous (or self-driving) cars are on the horizon, with many companies racing to design them. It was just last year that Delphi’s autonomous car drove across the country by itself. More specifically, reports state that this car handled 99% of the 3,400 mile journey from San Fransisco to New York on its own. In addition, tech powerhouse Google has tested out its self-driving vehicles for a reported 1.5 million miles since 2009.
These companies aim to put autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020. Even Uber has tested these independent vehicles since May of 2016, and is telling consumers to expect driverless Ubers by 2030. Besides cars, companies are also focusing on self-driving trucks and buses.
This futuristic vehicle phenomenon is bound to make changes to current infrastructures. Read this blog to learn more about how autonomous cars will change the game, specifically when it comes personal injury.
Benefits of Autonomous Cars
Let’s focus on the following good aspects of self-driving cars first.
Most motor vehicle accidents – roughly 90% – are caused by human error. In the U.S. specifically, car accidents were responsible for killing 32,675 people and injuring over 2.34 million in 2014. Studies show self-driving vehicles will reduce accidents by up to 90%.
Fewer Medical Visits and Expenses
Because there will be fewer accidents with autonomous vehicles, it is safe to say there will be fewer medical visits and expenses as well. According to a CDC report, more than 2.5 million people went to the emergency room and nearly 200,000 were hospitalized due to car accidents in 2012. That is almost 7,000 people per day. Autonomous vehicles will lessen the number of emergency visits and reduce medical expenses as a result of car accidents by $400 billion.
Autonomous vehicles tested by Google and Volvo incorporate crash-monitoring technology that can accurately hold the at-fault party accountable in the event of an accident.
Assumption of Liability
Many are concerned about liability when it comes to autonomous car accidents, especially if it’s due to a self-driving vehicle error or the vehicle being hacked by a third-party. Rest assured. Google and other car manufacturers (like Mercedes and Volvo) have stated that they will take full responsibility if their car is in autonomous mode.
Massive Increase In Crash Data
At present, unless you happen to have a dash-cam, there is little hope of capturing data about your crash. Traffic accident analysis and reconstruction is an art at best. Once cars are autonomous, instrumentation will be designed to self diagnose and save all relevant signals and input collected prior to a crash.
The Industries Autonomous Vehicles Will Disrupt
Autonomous cars, while providing some benefits, will inevitably disrupt certain industries.
Self-driving cars will eradicate the need for a driver to find parking. These cars will simply drop the passenger off and find parking elsewhere (or even remain on the road if it is a part of a ride-sharing program). Parking makes up to one-third of the total real estate in some large cities in the United States. That comes to about 144 billion square feet of total parking. It has been reported that self-driving cars can potentially decrease this number by 61 billion square feet. While this is good in the sense that these properties can be transformed into more socially and economically beneficial properties, it also decreases the amount of money for the city. For example, Washington, D.C. collected $92.6 million in parking ticket revenue in 2012.
Autonomous cars present an opportunity for faster and easier commuting. This creates a higher value for properties in urban areas, versus those in suburban areas.
Speeding tickets were issued about 773 times per day in Washington D.C. in 2014. This amounts to about $37.5 million worth of fines. Self-driving vehicles will drastically reduce this number. They will also decrease drunk driving and various other traffic violations, ultimately decreasing the size of police forces.
Autonomous vehicles will significantly change the insurance revenue model. The lowered risk of getting into accident reduces the demand for insurance. Some insurance companies are already preparing for this transition by creating usage-based insurance policies – which charge consumers based on how many miles they drive and their safety habits when it comes to driving.
Personal Injury Lawyers
It is inevitable that personal injury lawyers will face a decrease in demand. While car accidents accounted for 35 percent of all civil trials in 2005, this number will ultimately disappear when self-driving cars are mainstream.
Overnight trips account for a lot of hotel bookings. These numbers will dissipate as more and more people choose to sleep in their cars during overnight trips. This is a more cost-efficient and convenient alternative to booking a hotel room.
Media, entertainment and online retail will increase once autonomous cars are on the market. According to a report by McKinsey and Company, each extra minute an individual spends on the Internet could potentially generate $5.6 billion annually.
Food and Package Delivery
Autonomous vehicles will bode well for delivery services. Reports estimate that this industry will benefit from between $100 to $500 billion per year by 2025. However, these vehicles will not bode well for truck drivers and their wages.
Because self-driving cars will drastically decrease the number of car crashes, repair shops will lose a significant amount of business. Also, a decrease in the demand for new auto parts will in turn decrease the need for steel producers and part manufacturers. To put this in perspective, 24 million vehicles were damaged in 2010 and this accounted for a cost of $76 billion in property damages.
The need for traditional auto manufacturers will decrease due to autonomous vehicles. These self-driving vehicles will rely on software and electronics companies for the necessary computers needed to create a driverless car.
Impact of Autonomous Cars on Legal Funding
As previously stated, autonomous cars will cause fewer accidents, which lessens the amount of personal injury cases for motor vehicle accidents. This, obviously, lessens the need for legal funding. However, there is still a substantial opportunity for personal injury attorneys and legal funding companies. While the ultimate goal of driverless transportation is fewer accidents, there will inevitably be a transition phase where driverless cars collide with other driverless vehicles as well as with human-operated vehicles. In addition, there are some attorneys who predict that personal injury cases with no one behind the wheel presents the opportunity for various other defendants – such as manufacturers and software developers.
Car Accident Loans From Uplift Legal Funding
In the event you are in an accident and you suspect negligence of the other driver, consider filing a claim to get the compensation you deserve. Uplift offers legal funding on car accident claims for plaintiffs nationwide. Learn more by giving us a call at (800) 385-3660 or applying online.