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Self-Driving Cars Are Coming To Florida: Now What?


Over the past couple of years, “smart” technology has become increasingly prominent in our lives. One of the most significant advances has been the release of self-driving automobiles. It appears that these vehicles are close to hitting the roadway. What will this mean for Florida drivers? And what will happen if you’re involved in an accident with a self-driving car?

Self-Driving Cars Make Their Way To Florida

In a May 21 article, the Naples Daily News said, “almost overnight, Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America.” Companies are flocking to Florida to release prototypes of their self-driving cars. Examples include:

Ford, which plans to introduce autonomous car delivery in Miami by 2021
Voyage, an independent taxi service operating primarily in The Villages of Central FL
Transdev, an autonomous shuttle service running on Babcock Ranch

So, why might this be the case? For one, members of Florida’s legislature were at the forefront of self-driving technology. Take, for instance, Senator Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg. As early as 2012, Brandes proposed legislation that would make autonomous cars legal in Florida. Brandes saw it as a forward-thinking opportunity that would allow Florida to be on the forefront of transportation and mobility innovation.

Autonomous Technology Is Not Without Its Faults

As promising as self-driving technology appears, it seems as though there is still a way to go before we can learn to trust it on our roads. There have been multiple fatalities across the United States that have occurred due to self-driving technology. This not only included those who were passengers in an autonomous car, but pedestrians who were struck by vehicles as well.

Many critics wonder whether Florida has bitten off more than it can chew in allowing autonomous cars on the roads. There are grave concerns about whether the technology is capable of responding to real-time situations that were not pre-programmed into the vehicle’s algorithms or response mechanisms.

How Will Self-Driving Vehicles Impact Personal Injury Suits?

If you’re involved in an accident in which the other party was at fault, it’s relatively evident against who you’ll file a personal injury suit. But what happens when you’re involved in an accident with a self-driving vehicle? What if you were injured by an autonomous vehicle when you were crossing the street?

Right now, the answers are murky, as there have been no personal injury suits filed in similar cases. Once a claim is filed, the legal community will be on edge awaiting the results, as this will set a precedent for future cases.

It will be most interesting to see if the family of the pedestrian who was struck by a self-driving vehicle in Tempe, Arizona will file a wrongful death or personal injury suit, as that will help clarify future cases. The likely scenario is that the pedestrian’s attorneys will file a lawsuit against “any and all parties” involved and then allow the courts to determine who was most at fault.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

Self-Driving Cars Are Coming To Florida: Now What?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh




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