Who is responsible for an accident involving a self-driving car?

self-driving car

As technology advances, car companies are developing sophisticated software to design vehicles that operate without human intervention. The goal is to prevent auto accidents as they are often caused by human error. As more vehicles are being equipped with self-driving capabilities, many people wonder who could be held liable for an accident involving an autonomous vehicle. Continue reading to learn who could be liable for an accident involving a self-driving car and how our skilled Santa Clara County Car Accident Attorneys can help you establish fault. 

What are autonomous vehicles?

An autonomous vehicle can operate on the road without any human intervention. Essentially fully automated vehicles are driverless. They use sophisticated software systems and advanced algorithms to sense their environment to navigate to a destination without the control of a driver. Fully autonomous vehicles are not on the road quite yet. The vehicles you see on the road have self-driving capabilities such as cruise control, backup cameras, blind-spot detection, and lane assistance. However, despite their automation features, a driver is still necessary.

Who can be held liable for an accident involving a self-driving car?

As mentioned above, fully automated vehicles have not been integrated onto the roads yet. However, many cars are equipped with self-driving capabilities. Self-driving cars are not driverless. Therefore, if a motorist engages in any unsafe driving behaviors while behind the wheel such as looking at their phone or sleeping, they will be found negligent and will be held responsible for the accident. Motorists are still legally required to exercise reasonable care while behind the wheel. They are required to pay attention to the road in case they have to regain control of the vehicle. Moreover, the driver of the self-driving car is not the only party who may be liable for a collision involving an autonomous vehicle. The manufacturer of the vehicle may be liable if the accident occurred because of a mechanical issue or a malfunctioning part. For instance, if the vehicle’s brakes fail, the manufacturer would be liable because the motorist could do nothing. In addition, the software company that designed the vehicle can be held responsible for a collision if there was an issue with the vehicle’s automation features. For example, if the sensory system and radar that detects the vehicle’s environment malfunction it can result in a hazard going undetected causing a collision. Therefore, the software company can be held responsible for the accident. Auto accidents involving self-driving cars are uncharted territory for insurance companies as several parties may be responsible for a crash.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a self-driving car, contact a trusted Santa Clara County car accident attorney. Our firm is committed to helping our clients hold negligent parties responsible for their negligent actions.