CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH AN AUSTIN AUTONOMOUS MOTOR VEHICLE ATTORNEY TODAY
Although there has been exponential technological progress over the past few decades, this progress has also brought new problems. For example, America’s soaring use of autonomous cars has led to an increase in accidents involving these types of vehicles. Victims of such accidents may have grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for costs incurred as a result of the accident.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash with a self-driving vehicle in Austin and are interested in filing a claim, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.
WHAT IS AN AUTONOMOUS MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
Autonomous cars are “self-driving” cars. This means that the vehicle is capable of sensing its environment and moving accordingly with little or no human input. These vehicles can take several forms, ranging from vehicles capable of parallel parking to fully driverless vehicles.
Any time the driver of the vehicle is not manually controlling the car’s movements, the vehicle may be considered an autonomous motor vehicle. An autonomous motor vehicle accident is thus any accident involving a vehicle with these features.
Although this incredible advancement in technology certainly has several upsides, the risk for error is still significant. When they occur, autonomous motor vehicle accidents can result in significant injury and even death. For example, in 2018, a self-driving vehicle owned and operated by Uber hit and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona. Similarly, in 2016, a man was killed in an accident while using a Tesla that was driving itself in autopilot mode. These accidents call into question the safety behind such technologically advanced automobiles.
For more helpful information regarding autonomous motor vehicles and autonomous motor vehicle safety, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/technology-innovation/automated-vehicles.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT
1. Seek Medical Attention
Assessing your situation and seeking prompt medical attention should always be the number one priority following any motor vehicle accident. In many cases, victims of automobile accidents feel that medical attention is unnecessary because they do not immediately feel any pain or experience any cause for concern. However, the physical effects of car accidents are notorious for laying dormant for hours or days after the accident. Once the adrenaline from the accident wears off, the pain from the collision may set in, thus prompting a visit to the doctor or emergency room. Thus, consider seeking medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. Doing so may help ensure that you recover as quickly and efficiently as possible.
2. File a Report
Be sure to file a report with local law enforcement, your medical provider, and/or the company that manufactures or owns the autonomous vehicle. When filing the report, include as many details as possible regarding the accident such as how it occurred and what injuries you sustained. Also, be sure to refrain from admitting any fault for the accident. Doing so, even inadvertently, may lead to the forfeiture of some or all of your legal rights.
3. Document the Accident
One of the most critical parts of the post-accident process (yet also one of the most overlooked or ignored), is taking the time and effort to document the accident. Documenting the accident means maintaining a running file of all documentation relating to the accident. This file can be digitally stored on your smartphone or kept in paper copies in your home office. Documents that should be kept for your records include:
- Accident reports
- Photographs of the scene of the accident
- Photographs of your injuries
- Witness statements
- Medical bills
- Property repair estimates
In addition to helping you remember the dates and details regarding your accident, these documents will play a critical role in strengthening the value of your claim.
4. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Finally, you should contact an Austin autonomous motor vehicle accident attorney. Consult with an attorney before speaking with insurance companies or claims adjusters. A lawyer may wish to speak with you in person or over the phone to gather the facts of your case. From there, the attorney may be able to provide legal advice regarding any rights and remedies that may be available to you. If necessary, an attorney can file a timely lawsuit against all proper parties.
WHO MAY I SUE?
The issue of liability following a car crash can be tricky even under normal circumstances, such as when two cars being operated by humans collide. Addressing liability becomes even more difficult when autonomous motor vehicles are involved. Listed below are several parties that may be subject to liability following an autonomous motor vehicle crash.
Despite autonomous motor vehicles having the capability to steer or drive themselves, the risk of human error still exists. In other words, even the best and safest forms of technology cannot prevent others from negligent human operators.
If the person driving the car has ultimate control over the vehicle, there is a chance that he or she may be liable for an accident. For example, the operator may be liable if he or she could have done something to prevent the crash but failed to do so.
The Manufacturer/Owner of the Car
When the technology behind the vehicle’s automation is defective or compromised, the company that manufactured or owns the car may be subject to liability. For example, if the self-driving software of a fully driverless vehicle malfunctions due to improper coding or other oversight, liability may attach to the car’s manufacturer.
The Manufacturer of a Car Part
Autonomous motor vehicle accidents can still occur even in the absence of human error or defective software. For example, a tire may blowout and cause an accident. Similarly, the car’s brakes may fail and lead to a collision. In these cases, the company that manufactured the faulty car part may also be held accountable on a theory of products liability.
WHAT FORMS OF COMPENSATION ARE AVAILABLE?
If a personal injury victim can establish that the negligent or reckless acts of another caused his or her injuries, the victim may be entitled to compensation for costs incurred as a result of the accident. This compensation, referred to as “damages,” must be paid directly by the at-fault party or by the at-fault party’s insurance company. The types of damages that may be available to a personal injury victim fall into two broad categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer generally to costs that the victim has paid, or would have to pay, out of pocket. In other words, economic damages represent objective costs that can be accounted for and calculated. Economic damages in an autonomous motor vehicle accident lawsuit may include:
- Medical and pharmacy bills
- Future medical costs
- Lost income and wages
- Future lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
On the other hand, non-economic damages refer to intangible losses which cannot be easily quantified. These subjective losses relate to the victim’s diminished quality of life. Typically, it is the jury’s responsibility to calculate the extent of non-economic damages suffered by a personal injury victim. Types of non-economic damages in an autonomous motor vehicle accident may include:
A third class of damages, referred to as punitive damages, may also be available depending on the nature of the case and the law of the governing jurisdiction. When awarded, punitive damages represent a form of punishment to the at-fault party, rather than a make-whole payment to the victim. Thus, punitive damages are reserved only for the narrow set of cases where the at-fault party acted intentionally, egregiously, or with reckless disregard for another.
SPEAK WITH A ZINDA LAW GROUP PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY TODAY
The days, weeks, and months following an injury can be stressful. Doctor’s appointments, rehabilitation schedules, making accommodations at work, and handling insurance claims make the to-do list seem never-ending.
Fortunately, the team of experienced self-driving vehicle accident attorneys at Zinda Law Group is here to help. We are prepared, ready, and willing to tackle the heavy lifting while you devote your time and energy to getting back on your feet. For instance, our team will investigate your accident, research applicable law and develop a strategy for strengthening your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, and do everything else necessary to protect your legal rights. Should you ever want to discuss the progress of your case or learn more about the rights and remedies that may be available to you, our attorneys are just one call away.
Our firm also believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about being able to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That's our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.