Autonomous Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers in Denver, ColoradoLast updated on: March 22, 2021
If you have been following technological developments over the past couple of years, you likely have heard of self-driving vehicles. Self-driving vehicles are exactly what they sound like—cars or trucks that don’t need a human at the wheel to operate. Self-driving cars are also making their way onto Denver roads. If you have been injured by a self-driving vehicle, you’re probably wondering what’s next for you and your family. Given the complications involved with self-driving vehicle claims, your best option may be to contact a Denver self-driving vehicle accident lawyer.
HOW DO SELF-DRIVING CARS WORK?
To a certain extent, the term “self-driving car” defines itself. However, as the technology develops, there is more nuance in the definition and how these vehicles actually operate. The Society of Automotive Engineers has developed a tiered system ranging from no automation at all to full automation to help describe the abilities of a particular vehicle.
At Level 0, the human driver is in full control of the vehicle, but the vehicle might provide some assistance in the form of automatic emergency braking, blind spot warnings, or lane departure warnings. Level 0 vehicles don’t necessarily take over any of the driver’s responsibilities, but rather provide some form of assistance.
At Level 1, the vehicle may begin to take over some minor duties from the driver and actually aid in the driving process. For example, they may have either lane centering or adaptive cruise control.
Vehicles that are operating at Level 2 provide both steering and brake or acceleration support to the driver. At Levels 1-3, the driver is still technically driving the car at all times and must closely supervise the support features.
At Level 3 and up, the human in the car is not technically driving when the support features are engaged. A Level 3 vehicle may include something like a traffic jam chauffeur, but when the feature requests, the human must begin to drive again.
At Level 4, the vehicle assumes most driving capabilities. Level 4 vehicles may not even have a steering wheel or pedals installed and could include something like a local taxi. However, Level 3 and 4 vehicles can only drive the vehicle under limited conditions and will not operate unless all of the required conditions are met.
Level 5 vehicles are likely what comes to mind for most people when they hear the term “self-driving car.” These vehicles can operate autonomously under all conditions and the automated driving features will never require a human driver to take over driving responsibilities.
Determining what level of the vehicle involved in your accident may help determine liability. An experienced attorney may be able to analyze this issue given the unique facts of your accident involving a self-driving vehicle in Denver.
DOES DENVER HAVE SELF-DRIVING VEHICLES?
For now, the majority of the vehicles on the road in Colorado are likely going to have drivers behind the wheel. However, this does not mean that there are not self-driving vehicles on the road right now. In fact, in 2017, Colorado passed a bill that legalized testing of self-driving vehicles on Colorado roads so long as they follow all of the traffic laws. In addition, EasyMile, a company that specializes in developing autonomous vehicle technology and is headquartered in Denver, has begun testing autonomous shuttles on public roads. While you may not come across many self-driving vehicles on a daily basis, they are currently on the road, and usage is likely to increase over time.
WHO IS LIABLE?
While there is no such thing as an “easy” car accident claim, accidents involving vehicles driven by human drivers are typically less complex than accidents that involve self-driving vehicles. In the standard case, the liability for an accident will be divided amongst the drivers. However, when a self-driving vehicle is involved, there are new possibilities for who might possibly be held liable for an accident, and this can create a serious headache when it comes to meting out responsibility. Below are some of the parties who might bear at least partial responsibility in an accident involving a self-driving vehicle in Denver.
The Vehicle Driver
Even in a discussion about self-driving vehicles, the determination of liability begins with the human drivers of the cars. As mentioned previously, an autonomous vehicle can be fully automatic or simply provide some form of assistance to the human driver. If the driver was still in control of the vehicle, then it is likely that they will bear some of the liability for an accident. In addition, if they failed to regain control of the vehicle when they should have, this could be another potential source of liability for the driver.
The Automobile Company
Putting an autonomous vehicle on the road is an enormous task that involves a lot of moving parts and people working together. Ultimately, though, automobile companies have an obligation to the public to put a safe, working product on the road. If a component fails and this failure leads to an accident, then the automobile company might be held liable for the damages that they cause.
Operating System Developers
One of the critical components in a self-driving vehicle is the operating system. Essentially, the operating system is the brain of the vehicle—it stands in place of the human driver and controls al of the physical components in order to drive. If the operating system was created negligently for the vehicle that you were in an accident with, then it is possible that the developers of the system could be held liable for your injuries.
HOW TO FILE A SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE ACCIDENT CLAIM
No two accidents are ever the exact same. However, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of what needs to happen in order to file a claim for your injuries after an accident involving a self-driving vehicle in Denver.
1. Contact a Denver Self-Driving Accident Attorney
First and foremost, it will likely be very important to have the right attorney on your side. An experienced lawyer can help relieve you of the burden of dealing with the legal side of your accident. An attorney should also keep you aware of all of the developments that occur in your case.
2. Research and Investigate
After you have hired an attorney, they may be able to get to work doing the research and information gathering that will be necessary to argue your case. In a self-driving vehicle accident, this includes looking into the automobile manufacturer, researching the applicable Colorado laws that could apply, and analyzing any photo or video evidence that may be available. Hiring an attorney who knows what could become important later on while researching could become crucial to your case.
3. Negotiate a Settlement
After your attorney has a handle on all of the facts of your case, they may be able to begin the process of negotiating a settlement offer with the other parties. Settling the case means reaching a resolution that is agreeable to all parties before going to an actual trial. At this stage, it is critical to have the assistance of an experienced attorney who understands how to properly value your claim and argue persuasively for maximum compensation for your injuries.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
There are statutes of limitations for all types of personal injury claims. The statute of limitations is the legal term for the amount of time that an accident victim has to file a claim based on a given accident. In Denver, the statute of limitations for car accident claims is three years, which means that accident victims have three years from the date of their accident to file a claim. If you file after this time has run, the claim will likely be dismissed for a lack of timeliness.
Certain exceptions may apply. For example, if the injured person is a minor, the statute might be paused until they reach age 18. The deadline could also be extended if the accident victim doesn’t discover their own injuries until a later date. The best advice, however, is to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
CALL ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
Self-driving cars may be the future of transportation, but if you have been in an accident with one, you have other concerns. Dealing with the fallout and making sure you and your family are taken care of is what is important, and this is where Zinda Law Group may be able to help. Our attorneys have the resources of a nationwide firm combined with the localized experience and personal attention of a boutique law group. In addition, we believe that accident victims shouldn’t be forced to worry about affording a lawyer, which is why you won’t pay us anything until we win your case for you.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.