In addition to basic traffic regulations,
insurance regulations will need to be examined as well. For example, some states
have mandatory premium discounts for
items like anti-theft devices, seat belts,
airbags and anti-lock brakes. With advancing technology, these regulations are
stale and need to be re-examined.
Liability laws will also need to evolve.
With ever increasing automated technology, accident fault will be attributed to
technology failures, not drivers. Rather
than a negligence analysis, it is likely
that automated technology failures will
be governed under product liability concepts. Changes in negligence laws will
have a major impact on the judicial system, insurance claims handling and subrogation. The sooner these changes can
be discussed, evaluated and implemented, the better prepared society will be for
While stakeholders in the automotive
and insurance industries have begun to
think about the U.S. legal system from the
context of automated driving, there is still
much left to be addressed. The focus of
regulation and legislation has been on the
testing of fully automated vehicles, while
the more basic rewriting of the rules of
the road relating to licensing, driving
standards and negligence have largely
been left unaddressed. Given the auto-
mated technology on the road today, it is
imperative that these rules be rewritten as
soon as possible.
Advancements in automated technolo-
gy have the potential to provide important
benefits to consumers. Autonomous tech-
nology can make the roads safer, reduce
traffic, increase road capacity, reduce en-
ergy consumption and pollution, and give
individuals who might not otherwise be
able to drive autonomy and mobility. The
U.S. legal system should not become the
pothole that impedes the progress these
new technologies afford. Expect to see ju-
dicial, legislative and regulatory change in
the near future as advancements in auton-
omous technology continue to roll out.
Michael R. Nelson is a partner in the New York
office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP.
Nelson has litigated on issues relating to antitrust,
consumer protection, regulation, government
enforcement, extracontractual and tortious
interference for Top 10 U.S. domestic insurers,
small to midsize property/casualty insurers. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kymberly Kochis is a partner also based in
the New York office of Sutherland Asbill &
Brennan LLP. She counsels insurers on a wide
range of litigation and corporate governance
matters and advises clients facing government
inquiries and investigations. Contact her
Alexander P. Fuchs is an associate in the
New York office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan
LLP, and advises insurance companies on
complex, large-scale litigation matters. He
focuses his practice on defending challenges
to insurers’ business practices in class action
cases and coverage disputes. He can be
reached at email@example.com.
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