What to do if you are Injured in a Car Accident involving a Self-Driving Car?
Did you really ever think that this is a question that you might ask one day? But in reality, getting in an accident with an autonomous car is a real risk with more on the road. Driverless cars are expected by most researchers to make the road a safer place. However, we still have a longway to go to enhance this technology. Accidents involving driverless cars or cars on auto-pilot mode are nothing new. There have been numerous crashes.
A question people are starting to ask is: who is responsible for a driverless crash? The liability becomes tricky. While some might think the vehicle owner is responsible, that isn’t always the case in certain jurisdictions.
Is Technology Liable?
According to the Department of Transportation, regulations were passed that state that a driverless car’s computer is to be considered the car’s driver, rather than the person inside. Holding a computer liable might sound weird, because it is. There is no precedent. However, there is basis in the law for holding manufacturers liable when their products cause injury. So, in some cases there could be multiple defendants. This includes the manufacturer, retailer, software or component designer, and even the vehicle’s owner.
This means that for those who get into an auto accident involving a driverless car, it can quickly change from a standard auto accident negligence case into a product liability design defect case. Something to note includes the fact that product liability cases are much harder to prove than an auto accident case. But, if a settlement or judgment comes, verdicts for product liability injuries are usually much higher than auto accident negligence cases.
Joint Liability Cases
For cases that involve a semi-autonomous self-driving car, meaning that a driver has hands on the wheel with the ability to take control if needed, the person in the driver’s seat could be found partly liable under a standard auto accident negligence theory. However, if an auto-pilot system was active at the time of the accident, both the driver and maker of the system could be brought into the same action and potentially both held liable.
As this self-driving technology is still new and not in all states, laws regulating the use and liability are still being developed. While the laws are murky, it is best to seek out Mike Hancock with Hancock Injury Attorneys to get help if you are in accident with a driverless car.