Self-Driving Cars: Preventing Accidents or Causing Them? – St. Louis Attorney


Self-driving cars are the wave of the future. However, many consumers who are looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the ride probably aren’t thinking of the possible legal repercussions. The entire idea behind self-driving cars is to eliminate the potential for human error, but that does not mean that all chance of error is gone. Automated cars can’t think independently, nor can they always anticipate conditions the way that the human brain is conditioned to.

Read more: Americans Not Excited About Autonomous Cars

Many cars now come equipped with different safety features and self-driving technology that is supposed to prevent costly errors that can lead to an accident. Not all of the technology out there is fully tested or foolproof, though. So, if you are in a car accident and the computer on your car was the one calling the shots, who is to blame: you or your car?

As things currently stand, if you are in a car that has self-automated features, but you are still behind the wheel, then you – the driver – are liable for any damage or injuries if you are found to be at fault for any resulting accident. That does not mean that there aren’t times when the manufacturer of the car, or the technology installed in it, can fail and cause the accident. But that does mean that if you are found at fault – even if the car malfunctioning is to blame – then you will need to initiate a product liability claim against the car manufacturer to recover for both parties’ damages and injuries.

Liability is not negated by the fact you are behind the wheel of a self-driving car. Since Missouri is a comparative law state, you will only be responsible for whatever portion of the accident you were found to have caused. That doesn’t matter whether it was driver error or self-driving technology error. You would be liable for your portion of the accident with the other party, and then it would be your responsibility to prove that the accident happened due to a product defect in order to recover in a product liability suit for your percentage.

Although the theory behind self-driving technology is that it is supposed to limit human error, the statistics indicate that self-driving cars are as much as four times more likely to be involved in an auto accident than conventional cars. If you are in a crash in Missouri and have a self-driving car, and you are found at fault, then you may be able to sue the car manufacturer for your portion of the liability.

If you have been involved in a St. Louis car accident call our 24 hour call center at (314) 361-4242 to speak with a St. Louis car accident attorney.


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35% Increase in Miles Driven by 2050? – St. Louis Auto Accident Lawyers


A recent report from an international auditing corporation KPMG shows that in the next 35 years, drivers on American roads will be driving about a trillion more miles compared to what they are driving today. These figures are far more significant if we consider the fact that vehicle ownership in the country is predicted to decline sharply over the next three to four decades. The reasons are said to be:

  • The rise of ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft
  • The introduction of self-driving cars, which could enter markets in next 5-10 years
  • The younger, urban millennials do not give as much importance to vehicle ownership as the previous generations did

This is what Gary Silberg, the automotive leader for KPMG had to say about the findings

“The automotive landscape will significantly change as a result of autonomous vehicles, and consumer behavior will dictate the rate of adoption. Like the smartphone, let’s not underestimate the power of these changes and the vast potential for new business models to satisfy them.”

Those increases would have a profound but unknown impact on vehicle sales, car ownership models, energy demand, and infrastructure…To be quite frank, I’m not sure people understand the enormity of the change, nor are we ready for it.

Key findings of the KPMG report

The study has found that although miles driven would increase significantly by 2050, not all drivers would be driving more in the next 3-4 decades. The researchers have predicted that:

  • Younger and middle age individuals will be responsible for the sharp increase in miles driven
  • Vehicles will need to have a flexible architecture to meet the demands and expectations of consumers
  • For these age groups, the surge in miles driven will be due to the increasing reliance on ride sharing services or self-driving vehicles, and not due to the fact these individuals will actually drive more often
  • Start-up companies and tech companies will become key players in the automotive industry, as these companies are usually better able to sense consumer changes

These findings are particularly significant for auto manufacturers, who would now want to focus on innovative solutions with a view to adapt to these predicted chances, and also to create a whole new driving experience for consumers.

This huge increase in the number of miles driven is also likely to bring about an increase in St. Louis car accidents. This makes it vital that traffic authorities gear up to create infrastructure and systems that can help cater to more number of vehicles particularly ride sharing vehicles and self-driving vehicles on the U.S. roads.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you should contact a competent and experienced St. Louis auto accident attorney. Give our experienced attorneys a call anytime, nights or weekends, at (314) 361-4242 for a free case evaluation.

Infant Killed in a Head-on Collision in Washington County

A couple of years back, an infant received fatal injuries in a head on collision involving a truck and car in Washington County.

head-on-collision-car-accidentThe collision occurred when the mother, who was driving the car, lost control on the wet road, and her car collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction.

According to Missouri state highway patrol report, the accident occurred in the morning hours of December 9, 2012 when Britney LaChance, 22 years, of Potosi, Missouri was driving her Kia Sorento. Her son Sevastian Garvin, an infant, was her only passenger. At the same time, Michael Stringer, 47 years, of Mineral Point, Missouri was driving his 2005 Dodge Ram. His family was riding with him. His passangers were Angela (44), Lillie (14), Amanda (17), and Jimmie Stringer (5).

At the time of the collision, Britney was driving northbound on Highway 21 at Route CC. Michael Stringer on the other hand, was driving southbound. The collision occurred when Britney lost control of her Kia Sorento on the wet road and slid into the path of Stringer’s truck. The right side of the Britney’s vehicle, where her infant was positioned, collided with the front of Michael’s vehicle.

The emergency crew rushed to the scene of the accident. Britney’s infant son Sebastian Garvin was declared dead at the accident site by coroner Brian DeClue. The deceased was taken to Washington County Memorial Hospital by the medical examiner. His mother, Britney LaChance was also seriously injured in the accident, and was rushed to Jefferson Regional by ambulance.

Michael Stringer also suffered serious injuries in the collision, and was taken to Washington County hospital by ambulance. Angela Stringer received moderate injuries, while her three children Lillie, Amanda, and Jimmie all suffered minor injuries. They all were taken to Washington County Hospital. According to the Missouri State Highway patrol report, Michael Stringer was the only one who was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

Both the vehicles involved in the collision were badly damaged. Britney’s vehicle received total damages, while Michael’s vehicle received extensive damages.

According to car accident attorneys head on collisions can occur because of several reasons including fatigued driving, distracted driving, and impaired driving. Apart from driver’s error, head on collisions can also occur because of faulty equipment or poor road conditions.

According to Missouri Law, “It is unlawful to drive any vehicle upon any highway or road which has been divided into two or more roadways by means of a physical barrier or by means of a dividing section or delineated by curbs, lines or other markings on the roadway, except to the right of such barrier or dividing section.” Failure to do so can not only cause a collision, but it can make you legally liable for all the damages.

If you get involved in a car accident on Missouri roads, it is important that you consult with a St. Louis car accident lawyer, and discuss all your legal options. Call The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. today at (314) 361-4242 to scheduling a free consultation.

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image credit: Jeff Cubina via Flickr

Head on Collision Kills 2 People in Jefferson County

Recently, there has been a number of head on collisions in Missouri.

st-louis-head-on-collision-lawyerAfter a man was killed and another injured in a wrong way accident on 17th march, 2014, another head on collision caused by a wrong way driver on 25th March, 2014 resulted in the death of 2 people. The head on collision occurred on Highway 21 at Shady valley interchange in Jefferson County. The diseased were the drivers of the two vehicles involved in the head on collision.

According to The Missouri State Highway Patrol report, an 82-year-old St. Louis woman, Mary E. Burke was driving her 2000 Toyota Camry north on the southbound lanes north of Old Highway 21 at the Shady Valley interchange in Jefferson county when she collided with another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The other vehicle was identified as a 1994 GMC Sonoma that was driven by James R. Sybert, 25, of De Soto. The fatal head on car collision occurred at 12:23 PM.

After the collision, Sybert’s truck slid off the road, and Burke’s Camry came to a halt on the roadway before it burst into flames. Burke was declared dead at the scene of the accident. Emergency crews rushed Sybert to the hospital, where he was declared dead a short time later. According to police authorities, Sybert was recently offered a position as a sheriff’s deputy in Jefferson County. He had accepted the offer, but he was yet to begin his job duties.

According to Missouri state highway patrol report, Sybert was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the car crash, but the wrong way driver, Burke was not.

Missouri state highway patrol authorities failed to figure out why the woman was driving the wrong way.

Wrong-way Drivers and Head on Collisions

Most head on collisions are caused by wrong way driving. In most cases, head on collisions lead to severe injuries or fatalities, as was the case in the Jefferson County accident. It is not uncommon for elderly drivers to be involved in such accidents.

Other causes of head on collisions include reckless driving, drunk driving, inattentive driving, trying to pass vehicles on a two lane road, driver distraction because of texting or speaking on the phone, driver fatigue, and failure to obey traffic regulations.

Apart from fatality, head on collisions can cause serious injuries that can render a person disabled for the rest of their life. Common injuries caused by head on collisions are head trauma, neck injuries, brain injuries, broken bones, contusions, lacerations, spinal cord injuries, and damage to internal organs.

If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a head on collision, contact a St. Louis car accident lawyer at The Hoffmann Law Firm,  L.L.C.

Call us today at (314) 361-4242 to schedule a free consultation.


photo credit: Flickr user | mmetchley

Slippery Roads Cause Crashes across the Midwest

This February has been very icy and there are many accidents to show for it, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Missouri-car-accident-lawyerJust a day or two into February, the crash reports by the Missouri Highway Patrol began to come in. Crashes were reported in southeast and east Missouri and were responded to by Troop E officers. Not only were there several vehicle accidents, but three MoDOT plow trucks that were sent in to deal with the snow and make the roads safe for Missouri drivers actually overturned due to black ice. Fortunately, no one was injured when the plows tipped over.

When driving conditions become this severe, it is advised that drivers slow down, be extra cautious, prepare for slippery roads, make sure never to follow too closely behind any vehicles (especially larger vehicles like snow plows), and make sure that your full attention is on the road at all times.

Missouri has not been the only state affected by the snow and ice storms. All across the Midwest drivers have been facing hazardous conditions. Kentucky, Iowa, and Oklahoma have also been reporting their fair share of accidents.

Take for example an accident involving a semi-truck on Sunday, February 2:

Paducah, Kentucky resident, Penny Free, 63, was traveling with her 5-year-old granddaughter, heading eastbound on I-24E, when she lost control of her vehicle. Her Buick Roadmaster spun around and struck a semi truck directly behind her. Both vehicles came to stop on the median.

It took about an hour for the semi truck to be extricated from the median.

Free sustained minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital.

That evening an accident involving an SUV and two semi trucks resulted in three fatalities.

The crash occurred around 8 p.m. on the Red River bridge connecting Texas and Oklahoma. The accident happened when the driver of an SUV lost control of his vehicle (most likely due to the icy roadways) as he was heading south on Highway 69/75. Officers think that the driver was driving just a little too fast for the icy conditions, lost control and struck the bridge. The SUV then bounced off the bridge and slammed into the guardrail, bouncing off that as well, then slamming back into the first guardrail once again. It was at this point that the SUV was hit by the first semi truck. Moments later a second semi truck became involved and also struck the SUV. Finally all three vehicles came to a stop.

The SUV was crushed between the side wall of the bridge and one of the semi trucks.

There were nine total occupants in the SUV. Three people, including one child were killed. The victims were identified as the driver Juan Garcia, 40, of Miami, Okla., passenger Anita Mayorga, 70, of Miami, Okla., and a juvenile.

Neither semi truck driver was injured.

There was another semi truck accident nearby, illustrating just how bad the conditions really were. The road needed to be closed for close to 5 hours while officers dealt with the accidents and ODOT and TxDOT workers sanded the roads.

St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, contacting an attorney should be a top priority. Accidents involving large commercial vehicles are much more complicated than accidents involving smaller vehicles and can easily result in much more serious injuries or fatalities. Obtaining compensation can oftentimes be difficult because trucking companies have experienced legal teams working tirelessly to minimize their liability. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and get the full compensation you deserve.

Call (314) 361-4242 or contact us online to schedule a free and private consultation.

photo credit: katerha

Hillsboro Man Killed In Hit And Run Accident

st-louis-hit-and-run-car-accident-attorneyA hit and run accident killed an elderly man in Hillsboro on Monday, January 20, 2014. Early Monday morning, the 80-year-old man was found lying in the road on northbound Route B near Marshak Way, where he had apparently been struck.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol relates that the hit and run accident occurred around 6:10 a.m. and that the man was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The driver who struck and killed the man fled the scene and has not yet been identified by authorities.

The elderly man had recently moved in with his daughter in August as he suffered from Alzheimer’s and needed additional care. His daughter said that her father was fond of taking walks, an activity that they would often do together – but that he never went out alone. However, she believes that on the night of the accident he got out of bed either late at night or early in the morning and went for a walk along Highway B.

The accident and the death of her father has been difficult to cope with for the man’s daughter. She says,

It would be easier to accept an accident, rather than someone who just walked away.

Currently police have not identified the driver but do have some information about the vehicle. The vehicle involved in the hit and run was a late 1990s Ford Ranger Pickup truck. It has lower passenger side airbags, tinted windows, black wheels, and may have an extended can. Officers will be searching for a suspect driving this vehicle.

Fatal Accident in December

Another fatal accident happened in late December. Two Arkansas sisters were killed in a three vehicle crash in Pineville on Thursday, December 26, 2013.

The crash occurred at 2:45 PM on U.S. 71. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a 19-year-old male, was driving in a 2002 Dodge Ram truck, heading northbound. He changed lanes in front of another northbound vehicle and was struck by the 2013 Chevrolet 2500, driven by a 47-year-old man, of Mudrow, Okahoma. After getting struck, the man’s truck crossed over the roadway and hit a southbound 2000 Toyota Sienna van. The impact was on the driver’s side of the van, which then went off the right side of the road and flipped over.

Passengers in the van, 20 and 16-year-old females, were both killed in the crash and were pronounced dead at the scene. Others were injured including the male driver and two other female passengers. All were taken by ambulance or airlifted to hospitals for treatment of moderate or serious injuries.

St. Louis Car Accidents

Car accidents can be devastating for victims and their families. Lives can change in an instant, and putting the pieces back together can be painstaking. Legally, accident victims and their families may be entitled to monetary damages for losses incurred in a serious accident. To protect yourself, your family, and your rights, it is important to discuss your accident and concerns with an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer. A car accident attorney is in the best position to identify the circumstances of your accident and understand how to get you the compensation that you are entitled to. While untangling the mess of an accident is never easy, your attorney can help sort through all of the legal matters surrounding the crash and this will allow you and your family to focus on recovery.

photo credit: HAM guy via Flickr

Motorcycle Accident Fatalities Continue to Rise

With 2013 only a few weeks behind us, complete accident statistics have not yet been completed.

motorcycle-accidentYet experts are already predicting that the rise in deaths resulting from motorcycle crashes continues. Statistics from 2012 showed a 9% increase in the number of fatalities over 2011, with more than 5,000 fatalities resulting from a motorcycle accident. Many feel that the surge in inattentive driving is to blame for these sudden increases. If you recently lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash, contact an attorney to find out if you are entitled to compensation for your damages.

Anyone who has ever been involved in a motorcycle accident will tell you that it is a violent event. Without the protection of a steel box the motorcyclist and any passenger is open to direct bodily contact with a fast moving vehicle. Other than their own protective gear, those who choose to ride a motorcycle are uniquely exposed to serious injury and death from an accident.

Occupants of a passenger car have door beams, air bags, a roof and seatbelts to offer them protection. Not to mention the car’s four wheels give it more stability than a motorcycle. Still, many motorists choose the motorcycle for its agility over a typical motor vehicle even though its smaller weight and size make it no match for a car when a crash occurs.

Barely into the new year, and we are already seeing news reports of motorcyclists killed on American highways. A 27 year old Texas man was killed on January 5th when he was ejected from his bike after hitting a guardrail. On the 11th an Orlando motorcycle accident left one driver dead when he was sideswiped by a vehicle that had crossed over the center line. While in California there were 2 separate motorcycle accidents early in the month within a day of each other that resulted in the death of the drivers. So many similar fatalities in such a short period of time is a harsh reminder of the risks facing a motorcyclist.

The families of an auto accident victim are allowed by Missouri law to seek compensation for their loss. Damages could include the loss of income from the loved one as well as personal pain and suffering caused by the sudden absence of them. One Missouri family was awarded $5.5 million after a tractor trailer rear ended the motorcycle of a husband and father, who died as a result of his injuries. Damages such as loss of care, protection and guidance are considered in these types of cases on top of the monetary damages.

St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer

As the incidence of motorcycle accidents continue to rise, we can expect to see the number of deaths resulting from them increase as well. The best a motorcyclist can do to protect himself is to wear a helmet and drive safely. If you have suffered from the tragic loss of someone in your family due to a motorcycle accident, ask a Missouri motorcycle accident attorney for help in recovering your damages. While your loved one cannot be replaced, you should not have to suffer financially as well because of another drivers negligence.

To speak with a St. Louis car accident lawyer at The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. call (314) 361-4242 or fill out our Online Contact Form to schedule a free consultation.


Photo credit:  Uriah Welcome via Flickr