Nicolet Law Office, S.C.

Driverless cars may soon be hitting Wisconsin roads

It’s hard to dispute that autonomous vehicles – in some form – are the future of the automotive industry. From Tesla to Google to Uber, numerous companies across the nation have had their hands in headline-grabbing projects. Fully driverless cars are currently undergoing testing in a number of states. Wisconsin may be next.

Last month, Governor Scott Walker took the first step toward allowing driverless cars on Wisconsin roads. A newly formed steering committee will provide recommendations on how to oversee testing and pave the way for regulating driverless cars.

A new direction in the automotive world

Wisconsin has historically been the heartbeat of the nation’s automotive industry. Driverless cars, however, are in many ways more a product of Silicon Valley-type tech-heads than Henry Ford.

Although one of the goals of driverless technology is to reduce traffic fatalities, that’s far from a sure thing. Taking the human out of the equation does eliminate dangers such as distractions and drunk driving. However, safe driving involves countless variables. In some situations, there’s simply no substitute for flesh-and-blood human judgment.

Weighing the risks

With any new technology comes risks, and driverless cars are no exception. It may take decades of fine-tuning to iron out all the unforeseen hiccups and hazards.

In the meantime, when accidents do occur, they’re bound to raise challenging legal questions such as:

  • Whos ultimately at fault when driverless systems malfunction? Obviously not the driver. Instead, liability will likely shift to auto manufacturers, software designers and perhaps the companies that deploy driverless vehicles. Car accident cases will become more akin to product liability claims – which means heightened stakes and increased complexity.
  • How do you define negligence in the context of a machine? Negligence ordinarily centers on how a reasonable person would act under similar circumstances. But does this mean plaintiffs will have to prove that a human driver in the same situation would have made a better decision? Or, given their capabilities, should driverless cars be held to a higher standard?
  • How can you know if the crash was preventable? Some malfunctions may be obvious, but others may involve numerous factors such as weather conditions, road design or infrastructure issues. Sorting out culpability in these cases could come down to guesswork.

Of course, there are upsides to driverless cars, too. The technology certainly has the potential to save lives. And crash investigations may become far easier – and more detailed – due to the wealth of data stored by autonomous vehicles.

As in other aspects of life, the law will have to evolve to keep pace with ever-changing technology.

Awards & Recognition

Our peers and independent third-party organizations have recognized the hard work and dedication we put into every case. This has led to numerous awards and accolades.

  1. Rated By Super Lawyers | Russel D. Nicolet
    Super Lawyers Rising Stars
    Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb | Top Attorney Personal Injury Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb | Top Attorney Bankruptcy
  2. The American Association of Legal Advocates Wisconsin Association for Justice BBB Accredited Business - A+
  3. Minnesota State Bar Association American Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin
  4. BV Distinguished | Lexis Nexis | Martindale-Hubbell | For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability The National Trial Lawyers Million Dollar Advocates Forum

Personal Attention To You -
Personal Dedication To Your Case

Contact us today for a free consultation where you will speak directly with one of our attorneys. We are conveniently located for your accessibility, with offices in Hudson, Eau Claire, and five other cities throughout the region. If your condition prevents you from coming to one of our offices, we will happily meet with you at your home or another location that is comfortable for you.

Call Us: 800-456-6956

  • In Wisconsin, call: 715-802-0872
  • In Minnesota, call: 651-243-2872

Tell Us About Your Case We’ll review your case details and contact you with an action plan.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Email Us For A Response

Wisconsin Offices

Hudson Office
511 2nd Street Suite 203
Hudson, WI 54016

Phone: 715-802-0872
Hudson Law Office Map

Rice Lake Office
337 N. Main Street
Rice Lake, WI 54868

Phone: 715-802-0872
Rice Lake Law Office Map

Eau Claire Office
402 Graham Ave, Suite 305
Eau Claire, WI 54701

Phone: 715-802-0872
Eau Claire Law Office Map

Superior Office
1200 Tower Ave.
Superior, WI 54880

Phone: 715-802-0872
Superior Law Office Map

New Richmond Office
1500 Madison Ave., Suite 220
New Richmond, WI 54017

Phone: 715-802-0872
New Richmond Law Office Map

Wausau Office
408 Third Street, Suite 303
Wausau, WI 54401

Phone: 715-802-0872
Wausau Law Office Map

Woodbury Office
724 Bielenberg Drive, Suite 126
Woodbury, MN 55125

Phone: 651-243-2872
Woodbury Law Office Map

Duluth Office
109 North 2nd Avenue West
Duluth, MN 55802

Phone: 218-208-6502
Duluth Law Office Map

Hibbing Office
Howard Court Bldg.
302 Howard St. , Ste. 123
Hibbing, MN 55746

Phone: 218-208-6502
Hibbing Law Office Map

Minnesota Offices