Article on Ticketing Driverless Cars Heralds the Beginning of Legal Precedents with Autonomous Vehicles, Notes Raymond R. Hassanlou

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Commenting on the recent article, the Los Angeles car accident attorney explains that, while minor, the story may lead to a future legal precedent when larger issues are decided in a courtroom.

For now it is just a traffic ticket, but if an accident had occurred, personal injury law may become involved.

Mr. Hassanlou explains that the decision to not give a ticket in these situations recognizes that the “operator” of a car may not have to do anything wrong for a vehicle to break a traffic law.

According to an article published November 16th by the Washington Post, a driverless car was recently pulled over in Mountain View, California for going less than 10 miles per hour below the speed limit and impeding traffic. Yet, the article specifies that the officer did not issue the “driver” a ticket, mostly because the car was actually driving itself at the time. According to Raymond R. Hassanlou, a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, this story may just be an amusing but inconsequential technology story for now, but the underlying questions surrounding the issue may lend themselves to determining precedents for larger issues. Mr. Hassanlou explains that the decision to not give a ticket in these situations recognizes that the “operator” of a car may not have to do anything wrong for a vehicle to break a traffic law.

When the operator’s actions do not affect the outcome in any way, Mr. Hassanlou explains that both punitive fees, as well as and fines meant to be deterrents, are rendered ineffective. He does, however, explain that in the case of a car accident where someone is injured, damages go beyond punitive and deterrent reasons. He explains that, although serving as a deterrent against future negligent behavior is one of the practical effects of personal injury lawsuits, their primary purpose is to compensate injured parties who have suffered economic or emotional damages as a result of the accident. Mr. Hassanlou says that any legally-knowledgeable person would agree that a person should not be denied compensation because the other vehicle responsible for their injuries was a self-driving car. What is less clear, he explains, is who would be responsible for the damages.

A legal expert interviewed by the article explains that, if a ticket had been given in that case, the operator would likely be responsible for the ticket. Mr. Hassanlou adds that fault would likely also be determined by user agreements that drivers signed or tacitly agreed to by operating the vehicle. Mr. Hassanlou explains that, through enough testing of the vehicles, the engineers responsible for making and programming self-driving cars might be reasonably certain that their car will not make any mistakes. Yet, for liability purposes, they would likely still insert language warning that safety is not a guarantee, so as to limit or avoid any future liability.

Mr. Hassanlou explains that we have not yet seen any court cases that involve injuries caused by this hypothetical situation. Nevertheless, he adds that those injured in car accidents of any type and complexity should contact a personal injury lawyer to ensure that they get the compensation they deserve. For more information, or to set up a consultation today, those interested can call 818-945-0640 or visit them online at

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Michael Clauw
Cyberset Corp
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Law Offices of Raymond R. Hassanlou
since: 03/2015
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