Who is Liable in a Self-Driving Auto Accident?
Vehicles that drive themselves, known as self-driving vehicles, autonomous vehicles, or just AVs, have been officially touted as safer than human-propelled vehicles. And while self-driving technology is getting better every day, the fact remains that many high-profile self-driving cars, from Uber to Tesla to Google, have been involved in numerous accidents already.
When these accidents happen, the question then becomes, does the victim pursue compensation from the car manufacturer or the owner of the car?
Self-Driving Cars and Accountability
Under our current laws, a car accident usually involves two or more drivers, with the at-fault party sometimes held liable depending on the seriousness of the injuries and if negligence was involved. But self-driving cars are new technologies, and the laws are trying to keep up. If someone gets injured in an accident with a self-driving car, a product liability claim may make more sense than a typical car accident claim depending on the situation.
For instance, the first fatality involving a semi-autonomous Tesla and a tractor trailer in California led to the death of the owner of the Tesla. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that Tesla’s system lacked appropriate safeguards and the company was held responsible.
During the same time frame, a pedestrian was killed by an Uber AV. The backup driver was “visually distracted” and not paying attention at the time of the accident. The backup driver has since been charged with negligent homicide.
Personal Injury Claims Rely on the Concept of Negligence
The basis for most car accident claims is driver negligence. But when a car is on auto-control or is operating driverless, driver negligence may not be a factor. Consequently, if an injured party wants to pursue a lawsuit for compensation, the victim may have to file a claim against the manufacturer. But product liability claims against large companies and manufacturers can be extremely complicated.
As long as AVs require a safety driver behind the wheel, there will be confusion about liability when something goes wrong. Furthermore, companies that produce AVs will need to consider their legal exposure in the case of an accident.
Insurance and Self-Driving Cars
Insurance laws will also need to keep up with new technologies such as AV cars.
Each state is responsible for establishing its own laws regarding insurance. In Florida, we are a no-fault insurance state, so an injured party will pursue compensation through their own personal injury protection coverage first. But if injuries are serious and their benefit resources have been spent, they will have to look further for compensation. Unfortunately, product liability claims can be complex, and automakers and their insurance companies are typically not eager to pay claims.
Can an Individual AV Owner Still Be Held Liable in an Accident Claim?
There may be situations where driver error and liability will still factor into an accident claim, and the owner or driver still be held liable. Each matter will be dependent on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the evidence available.
Seeking Guidance From an Experienced Boca Raton Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident involving a self-driving or a semi-autonomous vehicle, it is critical to get the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer in Boca Raton who knows the laws and can perform crucial investigations to determine the cause of the accident and who was at fault. At Ged Lawyers, LLP, our experienced Boca Raton car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping injury victims get fairly compensated for their injuries by the appropriate at-fault party. Call us at (561) 562-4170 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.