We have all been reading about autonomous car accidents lately. Self-driving car accidents may begin to happen more and more, now that autonomous cars are becoming more prevalent. Which begs the question, who is at fault when there is an autonomous car accident?
Car accidents used to be pretty straightforward legally. Most of the time, a driver is at fault. The car accident involves a police report and ambulances are called to take care of injuries. The injuries are followed up with emergency room visits. After that, it then continues forward to insurance or legal help from there.
But what about self-driving car accidents?
Car Accident Information and Statistics
There are over 30 million people involved in fatal car accidents every year. Many of those cases involved drivers who were not to blame for the car accident. Insurance companies are always quick to come in and try to put pressure on you to settle right away.
Sometimes the insurance companies are elusive in paying your medical or personal injury claims. That’s why it is important to seek legal counsel. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in a car accident with an self-driving car or a person driving a car.
Both need an auto accident lawyer to help you navigate very muddy water when trying to discern what to do next. California’s Department of Motor Vehicles did a study between 2014-2018 and found of 88 autonomous car accidents, 81 of them were a result of the people sitting in the driver’s seat.
Autonomous Car Technology
In addition, autonomous car technology is broken down by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration into five subsets for purposes of the law. They are as follows:
- Level 0 – No automation – the driver has complete control.
- Level 1 – A function-specific automation – automation of at least one control function
- Autonomous Level 2 – Combined function automation – automation of at least two control functions
- Level 3 – Limited self-driving automation – drivers can relinquish full control to the car but need to be back-up and observant at all times
- Level 4 – Full self-driving automation – Car does all safety-critical driving functions while monitoring road conditions
The Level 4 cars are not yet available but anticipated by 2020.
Autonomous Car Accidents
People created autonomous cars with the best intentions. Statistical data suggest most people are safer being driven by a computer than a human. Logically, it makes sense self-driving cars mean less congestion in our cities and overall safer driving.
But when a self-driving car does have an accident, how does the law apply? Who is at fault? What do you do next if you get in an accident with a self-driving car?
Here is how it breaks down for accident victims when they are injured in an accident with an autonomous vehicle.
- The accident victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the company who is behind the self-driving car.
- If a driver used the autopilot when the car accident happened, the driver also has some legal liability.
- If the self-driving car is to blame, the victim can sue for product liability damages.
Once a legal suit is filed for compensation, you can include the following:
- Any lost wages incurred while you were recovering from the accident
- Your medical expenses
- Property damage to your car and any other property damaged
- Pain and Suffering
If someone is killed during an autonomous car accident, then a wrongful death lawsuit could be filed.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If someone in your family has been killed by an autonomous car, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Typical damages from a wrongful death claim are:
- The loss of income the deceased would have made while they were alive
- The funeral expenses incurred for their services, plot, casket, etc.
- Loss of support
The loss of support is generally speaking about emotional support you have lost through your loved one’s death.
Some Legal Questions That Need Answering in Autonomous Car Accidents
No matter what, you need legal representation to represent your interests in an injury or death from a self-driving car accident. Even in self-driving car accidents, the outcome happens due to negligence, human mistakes, natural or unavoidable conditions. Your attorney is going to ask and find out the answers to the below questions.
Your attorney will need to find out who is at fault in the autonomous car accident? The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) report Nevada and California already know that the operator of the self-driving car is responsible for the car accident. This means whoever is responsible for causing the technology to engage is the responsible party if their car caused the accident.
This leads us to question two. Who caused the car accident? The driver of the autonomous car or the driver of the regular, non-driverless car?
You can still have a legal case even if you are partly to blame for the car accident, but circumstances need to be considered and evaluated. If the driverless vehicle driver is to blame, the self-driving car company is liable for the accident most of the time.
Autonomous Cars Growth Results in Changes to Legislation
Autonomous car accidents are changing the face of legislation on an ongoing basis. That’s because by 2040 it is estimated 33% of all new cars sold will be self-driving. 33% of all new cars sold equates to 96 million self-driving cars on the roads.
The laws are struggling to keep up with the technological changes occurring in cars, car accidents, and self-driving car injuries and deaths. Rand Corporation states by the year 2035, autonomous cars will be 90% safer than today’s human drivers in cars.
What is Your Next Step?
You may already be a part of the autonomous car accident statistic. You don’t know what to do or how to handle having an accident with a self-driving car. Don’t wait and don’t hesitate.
What you need is an excellent attorney who can lead you on what legal path is best and which path helps your future most. You need the experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Sweet Lawyers. They can help you navigate through murky legal waters in autonomous car accidents with their complicated legal processes. Reach out to us today, so we can help you find the legal path that fits your case best.