The era of the self-driving car has arrived, with the shiny promise of fewer auto collisions—and the inevitable potholes of a transformative technology. Despite the significant concerns raised by a recent accident involving a driver’s reliance on a partially autonomous automatic braking and steering system on the Tesla Model S—one of 70,000 such vehicles now on the roads—the auto industry is roaring ahead with autonomous vehicles (AVs). Google is testing its driverless cars extensively on U.S. roads; General Motors has teamed up with car-sharing company Lyft to develop a driverless taxi service; and most major automakers will be releasing fully or partially autonomous vehicles in the next five years.
Insurance covers the unexpected. Courts sometimes struggle to assess what an insured did expect, didn’t expect, or sometimes, should have expected. Contractors, construction firms and others should bear this in mind in their daily operations and when seeking a defense from their insurance companies.
In Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. Ryan Stevens Construction, Inc. the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah recently held that a contractor’s commercial general liability insurance carrier had no duty to defend a contractor who should have expected property damage resulting from its use of certain equipment on a construction project. The decision cautions contractors around the country to consider the expected consequences of their on-site actions to avoid arguments from insurers that any resulting damages are not accidental.