The field of auto accident law has been shifting since it came into being more than a century ago, but there is a range of pressures indicating that big changes may be on the horizon. It's can be hard to keep up with these developments, but an auto accident lawyer can help you understand what the legal environment is likely to be as you move forward with your claim. Lawyers in the industry are keeping their eyes on these three shifts in the coming years.
Changes in No-Fault
Insurance companies have been pressuring legislatures across the country to explore types of tort reforms that might help them offer products at lower cost and avoid paying out compensation in a number of cases. Michigan, in particular, has been a state where efforts to abolish no-fault insurance and go to a full-tort system have been heavy during the past two legislative sessions. While insurance rates might go down if these revisions are put into law, drivers would be in a situation where they'd be more likely to require the assistance of an auto accident lawyer in order to get compensation for things like medical bills.
Only 12 U.S. states and Puerto Rico currently have full-on no-fault auto insurance systems, but several high-population ones do have verbal thresholds, including New York, Florida and Pennsylvania. 10 other states and the District of Columbia have systems where no-fault or traditional tort options prevail.
Historically, drunk driving cases have been seen as one of the major subsets of cases that an auto accident attorney would handle. With the rise of legal marijuana in states like Colorado and California, the number of traffic fatalities involving stoned drivers has gone up. No form of breath test makes it possible to detect recent use of marijuana, posing a serious challenge to plaintiffs.
The arrival of self-driving cars on the roadways is raising questions about exactly who is liable for injuries arising from accidents involving autonomous vehicles. There have only been a few such cases, as most have involved cars being used in limited testing areas. These cases have so far been quickly settled.
The concern is that arguments in auto accident law, traditionally a field that focuses on personal injury law questions, may shift toward product liability and defect arguments. For plaintiffs, this may be a good thing, as autonomous vehicle companies tend to have deep pockets.