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Southfield, Mich. – – Sept. 23, 2016 – – A. Vince Colella, managing partner of Mich.-based personal injury and civil rights law firm, Moss & Colella, P.C., says the rush to autonomous vehicles may drastically reduce the number of auto related personal injury lawsuits, which is surprising to some.
“The thought of autonomous vehicles hitting the road in significant numbers conjures up the vision of numerous car crashes and injured parties wondering where to place blame,” Colella said. “The fact is, vehicles with drivers or otherwise are generally not put on the road without passing multiple rigorous safety tests and meeting state and national standards – which are currently being developed for autonomous vehicles.”
In Michigan, the Michigan No Fault Act is unique in that an auto accident victim does not have to prove fault against another driver to recover his or her medical expense, wages and ‘essential’ service costs.
“So whether one is injured in an autonomous vehicle or traditional vehicle would not have any effect on his or her No Fault rights as the Michigan law currently stands,” Colella said.
Where the legal profession is likely to see a major impact is with third party litigation where drivers (and their insurance companies) who are deemed to be negligent may be held liable for an auto accident victim’s pain and suffering.
“Third party claims make up the vast majority of all auto-related claims, so if you eliminate the driver, you will have effectively eliminated third party auto negligence claims,” Colella said. “It’s possible we may see a spike in product liability cases; however, tort reform legislation and expert witness expenses make these cases very difficult and cost prohibitive, so only the most serious injury or death cases would justify bringing a product liability action.”
So will the continuing focus on automotive safety threaten the livelihood of personal injury attorneys? Colella says there may be a change in demand, but there are no imminent fears of the demise of personal injury attorneys.
“As safety and convenience in a push-button, app-based world take center stage, there may be a decline in demand for traditional personal injury lawsuits and settlements, but just as the Internet has not eliminated paper or the middle man, there may be a shift in the number of personal injury cases with new personal injury cases presenting themselves,” Colella said.
About Moss & Colella
Established in 1997, Moss & Colella represents the victims of personal injury, civil rights violations, discrimination and wrongful death. The firm is recognized as a leader in complex tort litigation, including excess and deadly force, jail death, sexual abuse and harassment, auto and truck accidents, and other serious injury and wrongful death claims. To learn more about the firm and its diverse areas of practice, visit the Moss & Colella website.