Who Is Liable for a Self-Driving Car Accident?

Autonomous cars, also known as self-driving cars, are no longer a sci-fi fantasy or distant dream. Companies like Tesla and Google are already beta testing their own models of cars driven by an onboard computer.

These vehicles use a variety of techniques to detect their surroundings and avoid accidents. In an ideal situation, they also need almost no input from the passenger of the vehicle regarding driving assistance. Because these cars are driving themselves, many personal injury attorneys and insurance companies are considering the question of liability in self-driving car accidents.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) claims there are five levels of driving automation. A level zero indicates full human control and a five is a fully autonomous vehicle. The degree of autonomy for most cars is at a level two or below, meaning the driver is responsible if the car crashes. Most collisions are caused by human error; fully automated vehicles are intended to prevent more failures and making driving safer. But what happens if a fully autonomous car makes a mistake?

To date, there has been no litigation or legal precedents to understand how liability for cars would work. Would the driver of the car be cited if he or she wasn’t in control of the vehicle? Would the programmer who designed the car software be responsible?

Self-driving car laws regarding crashes and liability is still a developing area of law. As of 2016, the NHTSA released a policy report to accelerate the adoption of autonomous car technology and provide guidelines for a regulatory framework. This report included a suggestion that states will be responsible for determining liability rules for autonomous vehicles. The state will consider how to allocate liability among car owners, operators, passengers, manufacturers, and others when a crash happens.

If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, talk to one of our skilled Toledo car accident attorneys. Our firm has more than 100 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. We are dedicated to helping the victims of personal injury seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at (419) 318-0772 to schedule a free case consultation today.

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