Who’s Responsible for an Accident with a Self-Driving Car?

Posted by Fred Koberlein, Sr. | Jan 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

For years we've all be wishing and wondering when the flying car is going to become a reality. We never considered that maybe self-driving cars would come first. Like it or not, these smart vehicles are here to stay, and the roads are likely to get more and more crowded with them in the years to come.

For many, however, this brings up a brand new liability issue. Recently we've heard the first reports of accidents involving these vehicles, and insurance companies as well as lawyers and victims are working on determining who is responsible when this occurs. Read about what happens in a self-driving car accident, who can be held negligent, and why you need a car accident attorney to help your case.

The Mountain View Incident

In May of 2016, the first self-driving car accident occurred on record in Mountain View, CA, when a self-propelled vehicle swerved to miss a bunch of sandbags and drove right into an oncoming bus. While other accidents involving these vehicles had occurred, this was the first one to occur due to a mistake on the part of the vehicle, and not the test driver. Since then, there have been one or two other accidents, but doubtless there will be more as the years go by.

Responsibility for a Self-Driving Car Accident

It has thus become more urgent to determine who exactly bears responsibility for these kinds of accidents. Assuming that there is a test-driver behind the wheel (as there often is at this point), is the driver responsible for not taking control and avoiding the incident? On the other side, is it the company who created, maintains and owns the car responsible?

As private individuals come to own these kinds of cars, the question of who is responsible for these accidents becomes increasingly more important. Is it the vehicle's owner, or is it the manufacturer of the car, under product liability claims? There's a concern that a lack of regulations and case law on these issues could make it impossible to roll these cars out in wide distribution.

Auto Manufacturers Bearing Blame

The first precedent was set in October of 2015 when manufacturer Volvo announced that it would bear responsibility for any accidents caused by its own self-driving Intellisafe Autopilot software, which it intends to roll out by 2020.

As for the formal legalities, despite the last administration pushing for these to be established, the Department of Transportation has yet to establish firm national safety and testing guidelines regarding cases of self-driving car accident, and the new administration has different priorities.

Car Accident Lawyer

As it stands, it's most likely that in accident cases, the liability would reside with the auto manufacturer and the software developer for the driving program. However, as with any complex personal injury case, it would be essential for the injured party to have a solid car accident lawyer in their corner to handle the suit.

If you're in Florida and are facing this kind of issue, you'll need someone experienced and knowledgeable to cover your case, like the attorneys at Koberlein Law Offices. Give us a call for a free consultation to discuss your case today.  

About the Author

Fred Koberlein, Sr.

Fred Koberlein, Sr. has experience well beyond the majority of attorneys, for your case. As a retired judge, practicing attorney, former Naval aviator (both pilot and instructor), he pledges to use his education, experience, and love for helping others to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.


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