The future seems to have officially arrived as self-driving cars continue to filter out into the roadways. Technological advancements have made self-driving vehicles an inevitability. While these vehicles are geared towards making the roads safer, nothing is infallible and there are, and have been already, accidents involving self-driving vehicles. This obviously stands to have dramatic impacts on the legal landscape for personal injury claims. While it is usually the driver of a vehicle who is found to be at fault for a motor vehicle accident, who can be held liable in a self-driving car accident?
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Self-Driving Car Accident?
The advanced safety features and reduction in chances for human error, drunk driving, and reckless driving that come with self-driving vehicles will hopefully reduce the number of accidents on the road. There will be, however, still accidents on the road. It is an obvious and good question as to who can be held liable in these self-driving car accidents. As the law and the courts turn to such novel issues, there will inevitably be further developments in this kind of analysis. As it stands now, and will probably remain so in some respects in the future, it depends.
Self-driving vehicles are autonomous, smart vehicles that are equipped with advanced software enabling the vehicle to operate with little human intervention and effort. There are several parties that may be held liable in a self-driving car accident depending on the root cause of the accident. For instance, there could be more traditional tort liability stemming from negligence on the part of the person tasked with operating the self-driving car. While the person may not be driving in the traditional sense, if a failure to properly operate and manage the self-driving car led to an accident, the human operator may very well be exposed to tort liability.
There is also potential product liability in an accident caused by a self-driving vehicle. If a dangerous defect in the self-driving vehicle caused the accident, then the car manufacturer, the company who designed or developed the vehicle or its technology, or some other party in the supply chain could be held liable for damages resulting from the self-driving car accident. A dangerous defect that could trigger product liability may be a design defect. This means that even if the vehicle was manufactured exactly to design specifications, it would still be defective. It may also be a manufacturing defect which would mean that, while the product design was safe, an error in manufacturing rendered the vehicle to be unsafe. A failure to warn could also be a defect that leads to a product liability claim if there were not adequate instructions or warnings for the product
Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys
As technology develops, the law must catch up. As it stands, operators of self-driving cars as well as designers and manufacturers of such vehicles stand to potentially be held liable for damages resulting from self-driving car accidents. The dedicated personal injury team at Compass Law Group keeps up to date with the issues that impact our clients, including technological advances. If you have been injured in a car accident, whether it be with a self-driving vehicle or a more traditional mode of transportation, we are here for you. Contact us today.