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News Stories

Who is Liable in a Self-Driving Car Accident?

Currently, self-driving cars only operate in the US in testing phases under carefully controlled experimental monitoring. However, it is very likely that we will have self-driving cars on roadways with passengers within the next decade. Here, we want to discuss who is at fault for self-driving car accidents right now and explore the idea of who may be at fault for these incidents as we move towards having more self-driving cars on the roadway.

Are Self-Driving Cars on Your Roadways Yet?

The future is fast approaching, particularly when it comes to self-driving vehicles. The long-held fantasy of driverless cars is starting to become true, at least in some areas. Various companies have been testing self-driving cars throughout the US for years. Last year, self-driving cars began testing on New York City roadways. There are various areas around California where self-driving cars are regularly tested. Unfortunately, there was a self-driving vehicle that struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona in 2018. 

However, despite all the news stories about self-driving vehicles, the reality is that they are not mainstream right now. Self-driving cars are not available to everyday consumers yet, so liability for any incidents that do occur in the testing phase will fall to the company responsible for testing. As self-driving cars become more mainstream, insurance laws will most certainly have to adapt to handle the increase in these vehicles on the roadways.

Autonomous Vehicle Liability

What is more common on our roadways is autonomous features in vehicles. Nearly every new vehicle on the roadway has some sort of autonomous feature. For example, the lowest level of vehicle automation includes steering assistance, adaptive cruise control, as well as acceleration and braking assistance.

There are more advanced vehicles on the roadway that have higher levels of automation. This includes vehicles that can park themselves or unpark themselves and meet their driver at the front of a store. Other vehicles are programmed to stay within the lanes of a highway with no driver input from the steering wheel, and they use various artificial intelligence systems to do so.

No matter what level of automation of vehicle has, every manufacturer makes a point to say that the driver behind the wheel is still responsible for every action the vehicle takes. These drivers should always be ready to take over driving from an autonomous feature if a hazardous situation arises. There should always be a driver in the driver’s seat, and the driver should have their hands on or near the wheel. Autonomous features are meant to make driving easier, not take over.

In the event an accident occurs while an autonomous feature is being used, the incident will be investigated just like any other car accident. If the driver using the autonomous feature is found to be responsible for the causing the incident, then their insurance carrier will be on the line for covering compensation to injury and property damage victims.

It is crucial for any person involved in a vehicle accident, regardless of whether or not there was an autonomous feature involved, to work with a skilled San Bernadino car accident attorney who can conduct a complete investigation into the incident.