Self-driving cars are becoming progressively more common on American roads. Although there are many benefits to self-driving cars, their existence poses the question of who’s liable if they cause a wreck. In theory, self-driving cars should result in fewer accidents than standard vehicles because they remove human error, but self-driving cars have caused serious wrecks.
For example, self-driving Tesla vehicles have caused accidents due to sensor malfunctions. As self-driving car wrecks become more frequent, you need to know how insurance companies and authorities determine liability.
Who Can I Hold Accountable in a Self-Driving Car Accident?
If you’re involved in a wreck caused by a self-driving car, you shouldn’t be liable for your vehicle’s damage and any injuries you may have sustained. In self-driving accidents, different parties could be liable.
The Operator of the Self-Driving Vehicle
Although self-driving vehicles don’t require human assistance, humans can still be held liable in the event that the self-driving car causes a wreck. If the person seated in the driver’s seat failed to take control of the vehicle resulting in a wreck, they could be liable.
For example, there was a serious self-driving car accident involving the company Uber in 2018. Uber tested one of its self-driving vehicles in Tempe, Arizona, and the self-driving vehicle struck and killed a bicyclist. The operator of the self-driving vehicle was supposed to take control of the vehicle if something went wrong, but the operator was on her phone and failed to see the oncoming cyclist. The Uber operator was held liable for the accident and was charged with negligent homicide. This case shows that it’s the responsibility of the person in the driver’s seat to take control of the self-driving vehicle in order to prevent wrecks.
Another situation in which a self-driving car owner could be held liable is if they failed to maintain their vehicle properly. Negligent maintenance refers to when a car owner fails to perform upkeep on their vehicle, which then results in a traffic accident. For example, if you fail to replace faulty brakes and you wreck into someone as a result, you caused the wreck through negligent maintenance. Self-driving cars require upkeep like every other vehicle, so failing to perform consistent maintenance can result in a serious accident.
Car Manufacturer or Another Company
The manufacturer of the self-driving vehicle could be liable for your wreck. Car companies can be found at fault for a wreck if they equipped vehicles with faulty parts. In Tesla’s self-driving car accidents, for example, the company was liable for wrecks because its faulty sensors caused the accidents.
Additionally, a company that provided certain car components could be found at fault. For example, Takata pleaded guilty because they provided several car companies with faulty airbags. If a faulty component caused the self-driving car to wreck, the company that produced the component could be found liable.
One critical factor to consider in determining liability is car recalls. If a company recalls a particular car or car part and the owner fails to address the issue, the owner could be held liable for negligent maintenance. It was their responsibility to fix their vehicle once they received notification of the recall.
Future of Liability in Self-Driving Car Accidents
It’s impossible to predict how common self-driving cars will become in the future, but they will likely become more of an issue for drivers and insurance companies. Liability in self-driving car accidents will evolve over time, and insurance companies and authorities will need to come up with more concrete ways of determining fault in these cases. Currently, it’s safe to assume that either the self-driving vehicle operator, manufacturer, or component provider is liable when a self-driving car causes an accident.
Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer
Determining liability in self-driving car accidents can be confusing, and these types of accidents will only become more frequent in the future. If you’re involved in a self-driving car accident, you need to contact car accident legal experts who stay up to date about how authorities and insurance companies determine liability in complex cases. For seasoned car accident attorneys you can count on in Indiana, contact Crossen Law Firm. We’ve helped many Indiana residents receive the compensation they deserved for wrecks including vehicle damages, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Call our office at 317-401-8626, or you can contact us here.