Also known as autonomous vehicles, self-driving cars continue to be developed by companies such as Uber, Tesla, Waymo and others. Although they are designed to eliminate driver error and reduce the incidence of accidents, some self-driving vehicles have been involved in serious, fatal crashes. If you have been hurt in a self-driving car accident, it can be tough to figure out who may be liable for your injuries and damages. A good car crash injury lawyer can determine which parties may be responsible and help you recover compensation for your medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Automation is Intended to Reduce Driver Error
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some type of human error is responsible for approximately 94 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic and human costs of these crashes are innumerable. While the creation of self-driving cars seeks to significantly reduce these costs, crashes involving self-driving vehicles have led to significant questions about liability.
Who is Responsible When an Autonomous Vehicle Causes Injury or Death?
There are several elements that may be involved in any type of accident, but when an autonomous vehicle is involved, liability issues can get murky. The most common causes of car accidents include:
Most self-driving cars still have human operators who remotely monitor the vehicle while it is on the road. If an operator is ultimately responsible for controlling a self-driving vehicle, they may be personally liable if their negligence causes a crash. For example, if a remote operator of an autonomous vehicle falls asleep and is involved in an accident, they may be responsible for any damages resulting from the collision.
Defective Design or Manufacturing
Technology fails for many different reasons, including improper design, defective parts, and vehicle malfunction. In these types of cases, the designer, parts manufacturer, auto manufacturer, and other parties may be liable if a self-driving car is involved in a crash.
Regulatory agencies are also responsible for keeping everyone safe on the road. If a government entity permits unsafe self-driving vehicles to operate, they may be responsible if testing on roadways results in harm to the public. When bringing a claim against a municipality or other government agency, there are strict procedures and deadlines that must be followed. These entities also enjoy certain liability protections that individuals and businesses do not. If you believe poor regulation of a self-driving vehicle led to an accident, it is vital to hire a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases.
Dealing with Insurance Companies after a Self-Driving Vehicle Accident
Because several parties may be responsible for damages in a self-driving car accident, negotiating with multiple insurance adjusters can be a nightmare. In cases involving autonomous vehicles, you may have to file a claim with the insurers of:
- The company that owns the vehicle
- The vehicle operator
- Technology and parts designers and manufacturers
- Other motorists involved in the accident
- A regulatory agency
Determining exactly who is at fault in these crashes is overwhelming and confusing. Although many of these companies have high limits on their liability policies, it doesn’t mean they will offer a fair personal injury settlement from the get-go. An experienced auto accident attorney can help you sort it all out and assist you with pursuing compensation from the appropriate parties.