The automotive industry has been witnessing significant technological advancements, the recent one being autonomous driving. Self-driving vehicles are starting to gain traction with leading car manufacturers including Tesla, Volvo, Mercedes, and Chevrolet already rolling out self-driving technology.
While the technology is relatively new, it has already raised legal questions: What happens after the aftermath of an accident with a self-driving car? Who is responsible for an accident involving a self-driving car?
The Rise in Self-Driving Car Accidents
The implementation of autonomous technology has faced major setbacks following the growth of self-driving accidents. There are numerous accidents involving autonomous cars, with some causing severe injuries or death. The first recorded case of a self-driving car killing a pedestrian occurred on March 18, 2018.
An uber test vehicle operating on a self-drive mode with a human safety backup driver sitting in the driving seat struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Following the incident, several other autonomous cars have been involved in accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 94% of self-driving car accidents are attributed to autonomous system errors and limited human interaction.
Who Is Responsible for a Self-Driving Car Accident?
The legal issues surrounding self-driving car accidents are still in very early stages. Just who is at fault when self-driving car accidents do happen, killing individuals, i.e., both drivers and pedestrians. Is it the driver of the car? The pedestrians? The hardware or software technology vendors of the autonomous system? Or the manufacturer of the vehicle? Well, the responsibility lies in how the accident occurred.
When Is the Driver Held Liable for a Self-Driving Car Accident?
The driver can still be held responsible for a self-driving accident, even if they were not behind the wheel at the time of the accident. Autonomous technology is still at development stages and hasn’t been fully implemented. Therefore, autonomous vehicle manufacturers usually warn drivers against taking their concentration off the road to sleep or do other activities. Besides, most self-driving vehicles alert the driver to revert from autonomous mode and take control of the vehicle when the conditions are unsafe or when a crash is imminent.
However, many drivers disregard these warnings, causing accidents. In such a situation, the driver is responsible for the accident.
When Is the Manufacturer Held Liable for a Self-Driving Car Accident?
There are several cases where a manufacturer is held liable in a self-driving accident, usually when the system malfunctions. For instance, the Cruize Automation technology in a Chevrolet Bolt failed to detect a motorcycle in the adjacent lane while switching, hitting the motorcycle, and severely injuring the motorcyclist. Chevrolet was held responsible for causing the accident.
While a manufacturer can be held culpable for a self-driving accident, a car accident claim against the manufacturer is often complicated and takes time for the car accident claim to be settled. Nonetheless, if you are involved in a self-driving car accident, and the driver is held liable, you can still get a pre-settlement loan from a legitimate pre-settlement funding company. The loan will enable you to sort out your finances as you wait for the claim to be settled.
What to Do After an Accident with a Self-Driving Car?
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a self-driving car, you would want to notify the police as soon as possible. Before the police arrive, make sure to collect the identification details of the individuals involved in the accident. You can take pictures of the crash, but don’t post or comment about the accident on social media.
Also, ensure you seek immediate medical attention to ascertain the extent of the injuries and get treated. Most importantly, seek legal assistance from an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.