Driverless cars and the TAC

Driverless cars and the TAC

If you are seriously injured in a transport accident in Victoria, you can sue the person at fault. But when a driverless car is at fault, who should the seriously injured person sue? The final word on accessing compensation following an incident involving a driverless car has not yet been given. Perhaps the answer should be: in an accident where you are not at fault, you can sue the TAC. Under the current scheme, a person who is seriously injured by someone else in a transport accident can recover compensation for pain and suffering and economic loss. This could be hundreds of thousands of dollars - which the average driver cannot afford to pay. Luckily, drivers of Victorian registered vehicles are insured by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). Driverless cars clearly cannot pay this compensation, nor feel remorse about being unable to do so. They generally feel very little at all. When drivers pay their Victorian car registration, part of that fee goes directly to the TAC. The TAC automatically becomes the insurer for any personal injuries resulting from accidents directly caused by the driving or arising out of the use of that vehicle. Someone who is injured in a transport accident is automatically entitled to some assistance, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. This includes payment of lost earnings, medical expenses and possibly an impairment benefit if their permanent injuries are serious enough. The introduction of driverless cars should not disrupt the scheme. In addition to the no-fault part of the scheme, a person who is seriously injured can also sue if someone else was at fault. As the law stands, you can only sue a person , which includes companies. You cannot sue a driverless car, even if it is at fault. So who would an injured person sue? The person in the car? The owner of the car? The manufacturer? Perhaps it is a moot point - the TAC will likely remain the only transport accident insurer in Victoria. They currently insure all cars and already provide a lot of compensation to people with serious injuries. It is predicted that as driverless cars become more common, there will be less accidents, because most accidents are caused by human error. Presumably, the TAC will benefit financially from the reduction in accidents. The TAC will still not have to fund claims where the person injured was entirely at fault. The TAC may argue that the appropriate response to driverless cars would be to adopt a scheme similar to the one operating in the Northern Territory, where those who are injured can access impairment benefits but cannot sue for pain and suffering. We would argue this would be a great injustice for those who are seriously injured in circumstances that are not their fault, as Territorians generally receive less compensation than Victorians for the same injuries. If driverless cars cause less accidents overall, as predicted, the TAC should be in a position to provide more relief to the fewer people who are seriously injured. There would be no reason for the TAC to use driverless cars as an excuse to leave injured people without compensation. When you've been injured in a traffic accident, its important to get the right advice. The team at Redlich's Work Injury Lawyers offer a No Win, No Fee service and your first appointment is free. To book, call us today on (03) 9321 9988.

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