Who is Responsible for Injuries When You are Involved In a Collision with a Self-Driving Car?

Last updated on: June 30, 2020

CALL (800) 863-5312 to find out what to do if you have been in an accident with a self-driving car

While a self-driving car might seem like a thing of the future, some brands are being manufactured and sold commercially now. The manufacturers boast the safety of autonomous vehicles, claiming they are less likely to cause an accident than manually-driven vehicles. For example, Tesla’s vehicles on Autopilot apparently only crash once every 4.41 million miles driven, compared to roughly 500 crashes per 100 million miles driven with non-autonomous vehicles. Still, there is much confusion about what happens if a self-driving car gets into an accident, especially when it comes to determining fault. A self-driving car accident lawyer is here to help injured clients determine what to do next.

If you or a loved one is hurt from an autonomous vehicle accident, call the Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for your free consultation.

How many car crashes are caused by self-driving cars?

Tesla has a significant lead in the market of self-driving vehicles. To date, Tesla vehicles have been involved in 217 deadly car crashes. Even though the company claims that its cars are less likely to crash in Autopilot than other cars in general, the number of accidents involving Tesla vehicles increases as more consumers buy them.

Of course, Tesla is not the only manufacturer in the autonomous vehicle market, and the other manufacturers’ vehicles have been involved in their fair share of collisions:

  • Google’s car Waymo has had 176 collisions
  • Cruise has had 172 collisions
  • Zoox has had 42 collisions
  • Apple has had 11 collisions
  • Ai has had 6 collisions
  • Aurora has had 4 collisions
  • WeRide has had 4 collisions
  • Argo has had 3 collisions
  • Motional, Nissan, Aimotive, and Toyota have each had 1 collision.

What makes self-driving cars different from other cars?

“Self-driving” generally refers to vehicles that have automated features that can correct drivers or alert drivers to conditions that need to be corrected. These features are particularly helpful to people with mobility problems such as disabled individuals or seniors. Importantly, few vehicles today are truly autonomous, and most “self-driving” cars require some element of human intervention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provided details on different levels of self-driving vehicles. We will discuss the various levels of self-driving vehicles from the least automated to the most automated. Some of the cars detailed below are available for commercial purchase, others are currently being manufactured but are not available for commercial purchase, and there are varieties of cars that have not even reached the manufacturing phase.

Momentary Driver Assistance

Cars that have the least amount of automation have momentary driver assistance. They require the driver to be attentive and engaged. In other words, the driver must accelerate, steer, and brake. The momentary assistance includes beeping or blinking warnings and alerts when the car leaves its lane without the driver signaling or when the car seems like it will potentially crash into a car ahead of it.

Driver Assistance

This level does more than merely warn or alert drivers when they are about to depart from their lane or crash into a vehicle. Cars with this level of automation actually rotate the wheels of the car to avoid the driver steering out of their lane without signaling.

Cars that have driver assistance also have adaptive cruise control, which adjusts the speed of the vehicle while the vehicle is in cruise control. This allows the car to keep a safe distance between it and the vehicles in front of it. Still, the driver must remain attentive and engaged while driving with driver assistance features.

Additional Assistance

Additional assistance, as the description implies, offers more assistance to the driver than regular driver assistance. This level of automation is the highest available to commercial consumers. Cars with this level of automation can steer, accelerate, and brake continuously. Additionally, the driver usually does not need to use the gas or brake pedals.

Drivers who engage the highway pilot, which is what the setting for this kind of automation is called, are supposed to remain engaged and attentive to the car and their surroundings. However, some drivers take advantage of the highway pilot setting and pay inadequate attention or even sleep while the setting is used.

Conditional Automation

The cars from this level of automation through the last level of automation are not available for commercial purchase. Soon, manufacturers could perfect autonomous vehicles with these higher levels of automation and sell them.Vehicles with conditional automation do not require the driver to remain engaged and attentive while the vehicle assumes all driving functions. They do require the driver to remain available to drive if the system requests that the driver take over, however.

High Automation

Vehicles with high automation would not require a human driver to operate them. If there are humans in the vehicle at all, they would be passengers. These vehicles would initially operate in limited areas until more testing is completed successfully.

Full Automation

The highest level of automation is full automation. Under this level, not only would there be no need for human drivers, but there would also be no limit to where and under what conditions the vehicle would be able to operate.

What are the rules for self-driving cars?

With all these varying levels of automated driving, it can be especially confusing for drivers to determine who is at fault for the accident and what rules should be followed for the victim to recover. The answers depend on the specific facts of each case. The person driving the automated car might try to avoid responsibility for the accident by stating that the car’s manufacturer created the automated system and should therefore be responsible for the victim’s injuries.

Although the argument for the manufacturer’s liability might evolve so that giants like Tesla and Google will start paying for accidents caused by their vehicles, the more successful argument has been that the human driver of the vehicle was negligent. We will explore both of these arguments in more depth below.

If the manufacturer is at fault

First of all, it can be difficult to prove that the manufacturer should pay for the accidents caused by automated vehicles. However, this argument will become stronger as cars require less human intervention to operate and assume more driving functions.

In cases where the victim wishes to hold the manufacturer liable for the accident, the victim must file a products liability case. Under the legal theory of products liability, the victim must show that the car was defectively designed or manufactured and that the defect caused the victim’s injuries. It does not matter whether the manufacturer was negligent — it suffices that the manufacturer met the elements already mentioned. Products liability encourages manufacturers to ensure that their products are as safe as possible before selling their products commercially.

Read More: Product Liability Lawyers

If the driver is at fault

The claim with which a victim might have more success is negligence. In a claim for negligence, when the other driver is driving the automated or semi-automated car, you must prove the following elements:

  1. 1. The driver of the automated car owed you a duty of care.
  2. 2. The driver of the automated car breached the duty of care that he or she owed you.
  3. 3. You received an injury for which you can be compensated.
  4. 4. The driver of the automated car caused your injury.

Read More: What is negligence?

The Driver’s Duty of Care

There is a legal duty of care in several facets of day-to-day life: When you invite your friend over to your home, you owe your friend a duty of care to warn him or her of an obstacle that could cause harm. A doctor owes a professional duty of care to patients, ensuring that they do not misdiagnose patients or administer the wrong kind of treatment. The average driver owes a duty of care to other drivers on the road, and that duty of care is the amount of care a reasonable person would show under the circumstances.

A breach of the duty of care occurs when the person at fault acts or fails to act such that the standard of care is not met. Speak with a car accident attorney if you are curious about whether the driver owed you a duty of care and then breached that duty of care.

Your Injury

Next, you must be able to show that you have a compensable injury. Importantly, our injury must be the kind for which you can recover. If you received a physical injury for which you needed medical treatment, your injury is likely compensable. Additionally,, the other driver must have been the one who caused your injury. The question of who was at fault for the injury is a question for the jury if the case goes to trial.

How to proceed after a car accident

Victims of car accidents can undergo a lot of pain and suffering. Although some car accident victims immediately know what to do after they have been in a car accident, others might be too injured to begin taking the right steps until later. If you are reading this article, you may have already completed some of the steps described below. Keep reading to see how to preserve your health and the strength of your case.

Seek Medical Care If Necessary

Your injuries after a car crash may require emergency medical treatment. Call an ambulance or have someone else call an ambulance so that you can be evacuated and receive treatment at a hospital. You will not be able to complete some of the other steps if you receive a serious injury, but your health is the biggest priority after a self-driving car accident.

On the other hand, if you did not sustain serious injuries at the scene of the accident, you can stick around to form your own record of the accident. You should still schedule a visit with your doctor to see whether you did in fact receive injuries that you did not detect before. While injuries like bruises, cuts, and fractures appear immediately, injuries like head injuries and back injuries may not reveal themselves until later.

When you make visits to your medical providers, keep track of which provider you visited, the diagnosis and treatment you received, and the cost of the visits and treatment. Not only do these things prove that you received and injury and what the injury cost you, but they also show the pain and suffering that you experienced, as well as what your recovery may look like.

Get Evidence at the Accident Scene

After the crash, carefully exit the vehicle as you are able. (Again, get medical help first if necessary.) Look around the scene of the accident and try to determine what happened. Make sure the other drivers involved are not hurt, and record their names and contact information. Try to get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident happen.

Next, take pictures of the scene of the accident, including where the accident took place and the damage to the cars involved.

Then, call the police so that they can put together an accident report. The report will become public record in a few days and will include crucial details about who the reporting officer perceives to be at fault for the accident.

Start Investigating

If you completed the prior two steps, you should have enough information to contact a car accident lawyer to talk about what’s next. The lawyer can listen to your account of the accident and help you pursue maximum compensation in your case.

SELF- DRIVING car accident lawyers can help you DETERMINE what’s NEXT

We understand how much a car crash can impact someone’s life. You may miss out on, family events, and time with friends. Plus, if you have been an in accident with a self-driving vehicle, you may have already incurred medical bills and other related costs. You may need help from an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.

The person who caused the accident should be held responsible for your injuries..  That’s why, at Zinda Law Group, we offer a 100% free consultation to help you determine next steps. Also, we offer a No Win, No Fee Guarantee so that our clients do not pay us unless we win their case.

Let an experienced car accident attorney help you pursue compensation for the injuries you suffered after a self-driving car crash. Begin by scheduling your consultation at (800) 863-5312 to meet with an experienced, compassionate lawyer who can help you get your life back on track.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.