Lake Nona Driverless Shuttles: Who May Be Liable in an Auto Accident?

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The future of transportation has arrived – at least, it has in Lake Nona. Earlier this year, a new Florida-based autonomous mobility solutions company announced its exclusive dealer arrangement for the sunshine state. Beep, the company, collaborated with the global leader in the autonomous vehicle (AV) market, NAVYA. Through the partnership, Beep, which is headquartered in Orange County’s Lake Nona, will lead testing and pilot deployments of NAVYA’s fully electric and driverless shuttle AUTONOM. Shuttle services are beginning this spring and will have a dedicated operator on board. The 15-passenger self-driving electric shuttle is the first of its kind in the state of Florida and one of only a few in the United States, according to WESH 2.

Classic car in black & white

Automated Vehicles: Who is at Fault?

When news broke out that a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in the United States, it reminded us and the world that decades of research into technology has brought this futuristic dream to a reality. But, when an automated vehicle (AV) has partial or full autonomy, legal issues arise. Particularly, who is to blame in the case of an accident involving an AV? In partially automated vehicle accidents, fault is more simple to determine: The driver is to blame because he or she was in control.

When the car is fully automated, blame is not so clear-cut. In an accident involving an AV, the fault can be assigned to one or many parties — the vehicle owner, the vehicle lessee, the manufacturer, the service center, or the AV software company, among others. In short, the cause of the crash may be the result of a design fault, manufacturer defect, a bug in the system software, poor vehicle service, or failure by the owner or lessee to properly maintain the vehicle.

Seeking Damages for Injuries

When it comes to the AUTONOM shuttles, any one of the above could be found liable for damages suffered if the vehicles are involved in a car accident, including the city of Lake Nona. As the law stands now, the human driver or operator of an at-fault AV involved in an accident is generally to blame unless something was systematically wrong with the vehicle. If the dedicated AUTONOM operator is a city employee, then by virtue of his or her employment, the city would also be held financially liable. This is due to the doctrine of vicarious liability, or respondeat superior, followed in Florida. This means that if the operator was acting in his or her job capacity, then the employer will be held liable for its employee’s negligent actions.

Just like in any other personal injury case, a victim of a Lake Nona car accident involving an AV can seek monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost past and future wages, future medical costs, and property damage, among other damages.

The future of transportation has arrived - at least, it has in Lake Nona.

Lake Nona Car Accident Attorneys

If you have been involved in an accident in Lake Nona or any other part of Florida – whether or not an automated vehicle was involved – and suffered an injury, contact the car accident attorneys at Bogin, Munns & Munns. We  fight for the rights of the injured across Florida and will do the same for you. Contact us today for your free consultation.


NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.

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