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Personal Injury

Self-driving cars will change how PI lawyers assist the public

While the number of collisions will be reduced when automated vehicles become the norm, personal injury lawyers will have to adapt to continue to assist the public, Toronto critical injury lawyer Salvatore Shaw tells The Lawyer’s Daily.

“It’s a wonderful thing if those numbers are reduced dramatically and there [are] less people being injured,” Shaw says, emphasizing that vehicles that aren’t subject to distracted or drunk driving are a positive thing.

He makes his comments in connection with news that Toronto City Council recently adopted a preliminary plan to launch an automated shuttle service bus project in 2020.

“The pilot project will test an automated shuttle bus and its potential impact on closing the ‘last mile’ gap — picking up passengers who live just far enough from main transit systems that travel is a challenge,” the article says.

The automated shuttle will reportedly seat up to 12 passengers and will travel in a “low-speed, low-volume environment.”

“While the bus will have no designated driver, there will be an ‘ambassador’ or operator on board at all times,” the article notes.

Shaw, a partner with McLeish Orlando LLP, says the automated bus project is a sign of things to come.

“The writing is on the wall. These vehicles are coming,” he tells The Lawyer’s Daily, noting that the majority of accidents are caused by human error, which will be reduced by autonomous vehicles.

However, for the time being self-driving cars won't be operating on their own.

“Ultimately, these autonomous vehicles will be on the road with vehicles still operated by humans and that will likely be the case for many, many years,” Shaw says, adding that over time personal injury lawyers will need to learn to adapt to assist the public.

He says that lawyers practising in this area will still be needed to figure out where responsibility in accidents lies and to ensure legislation is in place to protect people on the roads.

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