The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says federal law will consider Google's computerized self-driving system as the driver. This ruling has created many questions about who is liable in a car accident. The answers will have massive impacts on the insurance industry and car manufacturers.
Will carmakers be to blame for driverless crashes? In general, experts have several big ideas about what could happen. As many of you guessed, making the car the legal "driver" means the auto manufacturer may assume greater responsibility for crashes. This is largely a matter of product liability, several auto and insurance analysts said, not personal insurance — though as a 2014 study from the Brookings Institution suggests, determining where one type of coverage ends and the other begins will be tricky. We'll come back to this in a minute. But basically, victims of a collision could (directly or indirectly through their own insurers) try to seek damages from a driverless-car maker for manufacturing a vehicle that didn't operate as it was supposed to.