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Who’s Liable for a Self-Driving Car Crash?

Published: Mar 24, 2022 in Car Accidents
White car with smashed front end

Cars ranging from Teslas to Chevrolets have more safety features than ever before. From audible and sensory reminders helping you stay in your lane to automatic braking for collision prevention, cars today practically drive themselves.

However, who pays for your accident-related injuries and expenses after an accident with a self-driving car? Well, it depends on who’s at fault.

Liability & Causes of Self-Driving Car Wrecks

The demand for safer, more autonomous cars is increasing. The technology is still new and, for the most part, untested in large-scale applications. To date, several individuals have been injured and killed in accidents involving self-driving cars.

But how much liability falls on the driver or the manufacturer? Furthermore, how does investigating the accident’s cause help determine liability?

Tesla: ‘Fully Attentive Driver’

Tesla was among the first auto manufacturers to offer a self-driving car. Tesla states on their website that their self-driving features “are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment.”

Even the most advanced self-driving cars have driver controls that instantly override the automatic censors. While artificial intelligence has made tremendous advancements, automobile manufacturers aren’t quite ready to eliminate the need for human drivers.

False Sense of Security

Sophisticated programming may lull drivers into a false sense of security, making them more likely to take their eyes off the road or fall asleep at the wheel. By contrast, drivers without semi-autonomous cars might be more likely to pay attention and avoid driving while fatigued.

Faulty Technology

Due to imperfect technology, self-driving cars cannot always identify or react to threats. For example, the car’s anti-collision sensor might not distinguish a white car from a snowbank and fail to engage.

Cyber Security Threats

Like any other computer system, self-driving cars are vulnerable to hackers. An unhinged individual or terrorist organization could cause thousands of accidents through unauthorized remote access.

Liability Laws & Self-Driving Cars

According to Fortune, determining liability in self-driving cars accidents is yet to be determined. But like most states, Alabama has no specific laws regarding self-driving, non-commercial vehicles.

Who’s at Fault?

Depending on your perspective, different parties could be at fault.

What if I Was Hit by a Self-Driving Car?

No matter how sophisticated the technology, the driver is responsible for taking reasonable, prudent measures to avoid harming other motorists. As stated above, drivers may feel a false sense of security that causes them to feel comfortable enough to not pay attention while driving.

When drivers don’t take necessary measures to avoid an accident, they could be liable if they hit you. However, there are exceptions. When a malfunctioning self-driving car hits you, the driver might not be liable. In that case, you could pursue compensation from the auto manufacturer.

What if My Self-Driving Car Malfunctioned?

There may be instances where you were the driver of the self-driving car that crashed. Auto manufacturers may be liable if they knowingly allowed a defective or dangerous car on the road.

You might be involved in a single-vehicle crash because your car malfunctioned. In this case, you have a right to pursue compensation from the equipment manufacturer or the individuals responsible for inspecting the car.

Establishing liability in a car accident, whether it involves a self-driving car or not, is complicated. The increase in autonomous automobiles makes liability even more complex.

Why Establishing Liability Matters

You should not have to pay for medical care and other expenses for a car accident that was not your fault. Insurance companies won’t pay for your injuries and damages without proof.

An Alabama car accident attorney helps build a solid claim to pursue the compensation you deserve.

Compensation for Your Injuries

From accident photos to the car’s digital information system, an attorney establishes liability against the other driver. This proof helps increase the likelihood of an insurance payout for damages such as:

Our Alabama Car Accident Lawyers Want to Help

At Belt & Bruner, P.C., we’ve recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injured car accident victims like you. We are ready to help you and your loved ones.

Call 205-933-1500 for your free, no-risk consultation today. Or, use our contact form to start on your case as soon as possible.