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How Self-Driving Cars Could Shape Accident Claims in the Future


The rise of autonomous vehicles is reshaping our conception of future transportation. These vehicles have the capacity to completely revolutionize our means of travel, offering the potential to economize time, finances, and energy during our daily commutes. Nevertheless, managing accident claims is a prominent issue when it comes to self-driving cars. Should self-driving cars bear liability akin to human drivers, or must the legal framework evolve to encompass this innovative technology?

In this blog post, we will delve into the horizon of self-driving cars and their implications on accident claims. We will talk about the legal systems’ approaches to the challenges presented by autonomous vehicles and their potential ramifications for insurance companies.

Pioneering the Self-Driving Movement

Self-driving cars are no longer just a futuristic concept; they’re a tangible reality that’s gaining momentum. Automobile enthusiasts and policymakers alike are intrigued by the promising advantages of autonomous vehicles. However, it’s important to acknowledge that, at present, road accidents are responsible for approximately 1.3 million annual fatalities worldwide, with a significant portion of these tragedies attributed to human error.

Self-driving cars can make these numbers much smaller, as technology can help make mistakes happen less often. To promote the growth and testing of autonomous vehicles and boost research, innovation, and economic progress in the automotive sector, the Ontario government has launched a ten-year Automated Vehicle Pilot Program. 

(Notably, it’s worth mentioning that fully autonomous cars are not yet available for purchase in Canada.)

As we approach a potential era of self-driving cars, driver-assist technology is becoming more common in newer passenger vehicle models. These systems are responsible for steering, braking, and lane-keeping tasks. With the advancement of technology, provincial legislation regarding automotive insurance must also evolve. Currently, no regulations govern self-driving vehicles, making determining responsibility in the event of an accident difficult.

Navigating Insurance Coverage for Autonomous Vehicle Accidents

The rise of self-driving cars is poised to change how insurance companies handle accidents. At present, the main reason for car crashes is human mistakes. However, as autonomous technology advances, accountability for accidents is expected to shift towards manufacturers. Consequently, individuals affected by such accidents may pursue claims of product liability to seek compensation for their losses.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has issued a comprehensive report on auto insurance for self-driving vehicles. The report outlines recommendations for an insurance framework tailored to autonomous cars, built on two key pillars:

  • A single insurance policy covering both driver negligence and automated technology.
  • An agreement for sharing information among vehicle makers, owners, and insurance providers.

It’s important to note that these recommendations are anticipatory in nature, considering that fully autonomous vehicles have yet to be widely adopted by the public. Nonetheless, they provide valuable perspectives on how insurance coverage might be structured for accidents involving self-driving cars.

Meanwhile, it is important to ask: Who bears responsibility if a self-driving car, operating in driver-assist mode, collides with another vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian? These intricate questions necessitate collaboration between the insurance industry and policymakers to ensure that insurance coverage remains aligned with the progression of autonomous technology.

Untangling Responsibility in Driver-Assist Incidents

As we await the proliferation of fully autonomous vehicles, understanding the current landscape of self-driving technology is paramount. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has introduced a classification system to define varying levels of automation in vehicles. Here’s an overview of the SAE levels:

  • Level 0: No automation – The driver maintains complete control.
  • Level 1: Driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist are available. However, the driver remains responsible.
  • Level 2: The car can manage acceleration, steering, and braking under specific conditions, with the driver prepared to intervene.
  • Level 3: The vehicle can perform most driving tasks, but the driver must be ready to take control.
  • Level 4: In most situations, the vehicle can operate without a driver, but human intervention might still be needed.
  • Level 5: Vehicles operate autonomously in all scenarios without human input.

Cars conforming to Levels 1 and 2 automation standards are accessible to the public, offering features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, enhancing the driving experience.

Nonetheless, drivers must remember that driver-assist technologies are designed to assist rather than replace human drivers. In case of a collision during driver-assist mode, responsibility is likely to fall on the driver. Thus, maintaining vigilance and awareness while utilizing these features is crucial. Only by judiciously employing these technologies and thoroughly understanding them can a seamless transition to fully autonomous vehicles be ensured.

Anticipating Ontario Car Accident Claims in the Autonomous Age

As self-driving technology advances, it is essential to consider its impact on car accident claims in Ontario. The potential emergence of fully autonomous vehicles promises a transformation in insurance coverage. The surge of self-driving cars introduces fresh complexities in attributing fault and responsibility in case of accidents, and the absence of specific regulations governing vehicles reliant on driverless technologies further complicates the claims process.

With an eye on the future, it’s essential to foresee the transition of accountability from human negligence to manufacturer negligence. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has proposed a combined insurance policy that covers both driver negligence and automated technology, along with data sharing among vehicle manufacturers, owners, and insurers.


As autonomous vehicle technology continues to advance, the impact on car accident claims cannot be ignored. If you are involved in an accident with a self-driving car, navigating the claims process can be overwhelming. SG Injury Law employs a team of experienced car accident lawyers who can help you navigate the complexities of autonomous vehicle accident claims in Ontario. With our expertise in car accident law, we are prepared to explain your rights and guide you through the legal maze. We deeply understand the evolving landscape of self-driving technology and its implications for accident claims. 

If you are looking for a car accident lawyer in Ottawa, Brockville or anywhere across Ontario, SG Injury Lawyer is your answer. Whether you were a passenger in a self-driving vehicle or a party in a collision, we are committed to protecting your rights and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. At SG Injury Law, we pride ourselves on providing personalized and compassionate legal representation. We understand the stress of a car accident and are dedicated to supporting you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.