With self-driving vehicles advancing into the mainstream, an emerging question is, “Who is at fault in a driverless car accident?” New technology brings new legal issues, and an experienced auto accident lawyer can help injured drivers and passengers navigate them.
If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, contact Attorney Group. We offer free, confidential, no obligation consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated driverless car accident attorney who can assist you through the legal process.
Important: The time you have to pursue a claim is limited. Contact us for more information.
Who is At Fault in a Driverless Car Accident?
With technology increasingly changing, self-driving car research has become a topic of interest for many. Government agencies, major car manufacturers and Google are spending millions of dollars to fund research involving vehicle-automation technology. However, while these developments are intended to reduce the number of car accidents, what happens when automation is the suspected culprit of vehicle wrecks?
How does one divide blame between a car’s automated systems and a human driver, and how does one divide blame within the systems themselves? A myriad of factors may come into play: Was it the vehicle’s software, or was it the lack of testing conducted on said software? Was the hardware to blame? Did the hardware and software interact in dangerous ways in which the manufacturer did not expect?
These questions have been brought to the attention of developers, resulting in concerns that liability may be a major obstacle to the introduction of autonomous car technologies. In fact, if the issue of liability is not solved, it could eliminate or delay the vision of the use of driverless cars for the average consumer, according to an article published in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
New Technology Brings New Legal Issues
The use of autonomous vehicles may place challenging liability questions in front of courts should drivers become injured and attempt to seek compensation for damages. However, it does not necessarily mean that courts will be unable to address these concerns, and many feel that placing the driverless car industry on hold to allow legislators the opportunity to draft new liability laws in anticipation of problems is completely needed.
Negligence occurs if a manufacturer fails to design its products to be safe when used in reasonably foreseeable ways. For instance, a driverless steering technology that functions as intended during the day but that people claim causes fender-benders at night. An individual who sustains damages could allege that night driving is a reasonably foreseeable use of the car, and that the manufacturer’s failure to test the technology and ensure it is properly functioning at night constitutes negligence.
Another commonly-asserted theory of liability is design defects. For example, the software that is designed to control braking in a self-driving car does not apply enough braking power if the vehicle needs to stop on a downhill slope. As a result, the vehicle may cause a frontal collision as it hits the car in front of it, and a person who suffers economic losses or injuries due to the crash could file a design-defects lawsuit against the manufacturer.
While the specific fact patterns may differ, in product liability terms, companies who design, manufacture and market driverless car technologies are not so different from other manufacturers as they are all required to offer products that are safe and that function as intended. As a result, companies also have the same set of legal exposures if it can be proven that they failed to do so.
How a Driverless Car Accident Attorney Can Help
When negligence results in injury, an injured party suffers loss in various ways. The law allows an injured party to pursue damages to recover those losses. Common types of damages recoverable in a personal injury case include:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of ability to earn
- Scarring and disfigurement
When someone’s negligence results in the death of another person, family members of the person killed may recover damages for the wrongful death of their loved one. Wrongful death damages include:
- Medical expenses incurred prior to death
- Conscious pain and suffering prior to death
- Loss of the economic support of the loved one
- Loss of the companionship of the loved one
- Funeral expenses
If the actions causing injury are malicious or so reckless that intent to harm can be inferred, the responsible party can be liable for punitive damages to punish wrongful conduct and deter similar conduct in the future.
Victims of negligence and their families are encouraged to seek the counsel of a driverless car accident attorney to learn more about their rights and remedies.
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