Who Is Liable in Accidents Involving Self-Driving Cars?
New technologies are constantly being made available that improve our lives and offer a great deal of convenience. As the use of these technologies increases, legal questions also often arise about what happens when someone is injured while using them. One of the primary examples of a technology that may revolutionize our lives while raising questions about legal liability is that of self-driving cars.
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to change the way we use the road, but while manufacturers have been touting these vehicles’ safety features, and ride-sharing companies like Uber have been working to implement these cars in their fleets, the potential for auto accidents and injuries still exists. This was demonstrated in August 2017, when a car that was part of Uber’s autonomous vehicle test program was involved in an accident in San Francisco.
Legal Issues Surrounding Self-Driving Cars
As self-driving vehicles become more widely used on the road, they will be involved in more accidents. Determining liability in these accidents may become more complicated than in accidents involving traditional vehicles since several additional factors will apply. A variety of questions must be answered, such as how much control the driver had at the time of an accident, whether human error was a factor in an accident, or whether an accident was caused by a defect in the car’s systems.
In order to help determine responsibility for car accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Society of Automotive Engineers have identified six levels of automation for self-driving cars. At level zero, a human driver is in full control of a car, and at level five, the car is fully autonomous. When cars are operating at level two or below, the driver is responsible for an accident, according to Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant law professor at the University of South Carolina.
If a self-driving car is at fault in an auto accident, the car manufacturer may be liable for damages rather than the car’s driver. When bringing a product liability lawsuit against the automaker, drivers or passengers involved in an accident may need to demonstrate that there was a defect in the car’s systems or that the manufacturer did not provide adequate instructions or warnings regarding the car’s operation.
Contact a San Jose Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident involving a self-driving car, you need a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can help you receive compensation for the damages you have suffered. The experienced attorneys at Janoff Law can investigate your case and make sure the law is applied correctly when determining liability. Contact a San Jose auto accident lawyer at 408-286-2300 to schedule a free consultation.