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We handle cases across the United States. Allen Stewart is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.

The Role of Lemon Law Attorneys in Autonomous Vehicle Defects 

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As the automotive industry continues to evolve, so do the vehicles that the industry generates. Some of the most notable innovations in the auto sphere can be seen in autonomous vehicles (AVs). The advancing capabilities behind AVs are interesting and exciting; but they also create opportunities for problems to occur.

What happens when someone purchases an autonomous vehicle with a defect? Aren’t consumers supposed to be able to reasonably expect their new cars to work?

Under state and federal lemon laws, vehicle buyers do have the option to seek compensation when their new cars suffer from certain defects. Many people choose to work with qualified lemon law attorneys to streamline this process. The help of an experienced lawyer may make it easier for someone to receive relief after purchasing a lemon autonomous vehicle.

What is an autonomous vehicle?

Autonomous vehicles are known by several names. Driverless cars, robo-cars, self-driving cars, and automated vehicles are some of the most common terms used to refer to them.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) defines an autonomous vehicle as one that does not require direct driver input to control steering, acceleration, or braking.

According to the NAIC, autonomous vehicles are designed in a way that allows human drivers to navigate roadways without having to constantly monitor them.

The organization notes that although there are expected to be upwards of 5 million self-driving cars on U.S. roads by 2030, they are not all expected to be fully autonomous

Most autonomous vehicles simply have certain autonomous capabilities in specific conditions

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One of the easiest ways to understand the range in AVs’ functionality is through the levels of automation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) outlines the levels of automation for vehicles very clearly:

  1. Momentary driver assistance (Level 0): Vehicle drivers are fully responsible for driving their cars; emergency safety interventions and certain warnings and alerts are provided by an autonomous system.
  2. Driver assistance (Level 1): Vehicle drivers are still fully responsible for driving their cars; the vehicle’s autonomous system provides continuous assistance with EITHER acceleration and braking OR steering.
  3. Additional driver assistance (Level 2): Vehicle drivers maintain full responsibility for driving their cars; their vehicle’s autonomous system provides continuous assistance with BOTH acceleration/braking AND steering.
  4. Conditional automation (Level 3): The vehicle drives, but drivers must be available to take over driving responsibilities upon request (if the system can no longer operate for some reason).
  5. High automation (Level 4): When the autonomous system is engaged, it is fully responsible for driving tasks– but only within limited and designated service areas; no human driver is needed to operate the vehicle.
  6. Full automation (Level 5): The system maintains full responsibility for driving when it is engaged; all conditions and all roadways fall under this automation level’s capabilities; a human driver is not needed to operate the vehicle.

Are autonomous vehicles safe?

Autonomous vehicles are not inherently unsafe.

Remember: every vehicle poses some degree of risk to its driver and passengers. With that said, AVs do present their own unique set of risks.

A lot of research continues to be dedicated to determining how safe these cars are; and while nobody can say for sure whether automated cars are as safe as their traditional counterparts, there are some things potential self-driving vehicle buyers should keep in mind when it comes to safety.

What drivers should know about autonomous vehicle defects

Autonomous driving technology is one of many new and quickly-evolving technologies in the automotive industry. All these technologies present the same risk: they are changing and being put onto the market quickly.

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That means that errors and defects are more likely than usual to slip through the cracks during design and manufacturing. The race to introduce autonomous vehicles to the market as fast as possible creates pressure and incentivizes manufacturers to rush certain processes.

The types of autonomous vehicle defects

AVs can suffer from virtually all of the same substantial defects as traditional vehicles: acceleration problems, battery issues, faulty transmissions– the list goes on.

Self-driving technology also opens the door to some unique potential defects, too. A few examples of autonomous vehicle defects that may qualify for lemon claims include:

  1. Autobrake defects
  2. Cruise control failure
  3. Autopilot malfunctions
  4. Software integration failures

The role of lemon law attorneys in autonomous vehicle defects

Lemon law attorneys can play a key role in helping consumers seek relief after the purchase of a lemon autonomous vehicle.

State lemon laws look different depending on where you live. A lawyer who serves clients in your specific area will be very familiar with regional laws and can help you pursue justice in a way that’s catered to your location.

There are also federal laws in place to protect consumers who purchase lemon vehicles. The most notable example is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

  1. This Act requires product manufacturers and sellers to offer consumers detailed information about warranty coverage.
  2. Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, people who buy new vehicles are legally entitled to the right to believe that cars they purchase will do what they are designed to do.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act can be modified. In fact, it already has been before.

Modifications allow lawmakers to alter legislation in ways that reflect changing circumstances. That means it’s possible lemon laws will be changed or created to protect autonomous vehicle owners from defects and lemon AVs.

  1. Current lemon laws do not need to change to cover new types of defects in self-driving cars. The potential flexibility of the law just means that consumers may have even more protection in the future

Lemon law attorneys’ role in helping people pursue compensation after a lemon vehicle purchase is clear: they fight for clients’ rights with the law in mind.

An experienced lemon law attorney understands legislation like the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and other state-specific laws. They also leverage experience to approach lemon claims and cases in the most efficient way possible.

If you or somebody that you love has unknowingly purchased a lemon vehicle, there may be legal assistance available. A lawyer could determine that there is a valid lemon vehicle claim to be made. If this is the case, he or she can also help with the claims process.

Cases that escalate to mediation, arbitration, or even trial are often complex. Partnering with a lemon law attorney can simplify some parts of the legal process. Most people with industry experience recommend consulting with a legal professional to learn more about your rights and discuss your options for moving forward.

This information brought to you by Allen Stewart P.C.

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