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Innovation is becoming a norm in the automotive segment and self-driving cars are a reality now. The idea behind these vehicles is to leverage the potential of automation to minimize human errors and eliminate the resultant risk of accidents. But there is always a downside to the best things, even the most innovative technologies. Accidents do happen with self-driving cars too and there is a question of legal responsibility for such crashes because the car is driving on its own.
So it becomes important to be aware about the implications of such mishaps if you own a self-driving car or have an accident involving one in the future. After all, you will need to fix the liability if you are a victim or understand your stance if you are behind the while when the mishap took place. Let us explain more about self-driving car accidents and the responsibility for them.
Potential causes of self-driving car mishaps
Determination of liability obviously becomes tricky when it comes to mishaps involving self-driving cars. Still, the cause of the mishap can guide the determination of the liability for it. Unfortunately, not much is known statistically about such collisions as they are yet to be in common usage. Here are some known causes of crashes involving autonomous cars.
- Vehicle malfunction: The best of technologies can also fail at times. Engines can fail, brakes can go bad and parts can be defective even for the most sophisticated cars. This can happen with driverless cars as well because no technology is foolproof and defects can always come up, whether with the original product or after subsequent usage.
- Improper design or manufacturing: Design defects are as likely to happen with self-driving cars as with any other vehicle. These may relate to the structural specifications or the implementation of technology. In any case, these design or manufacturing defects add a considerable level of risk for mishaps.
- Human Error: Even while these vehicles are autonomous, human error is the one of the leading reasons why they may get into accidents. If a human driver happens to be behind the wheel, errors and negligence may still occur and cause a crash for a futuristic car too. Maybe, they fail to be alert while at the wheel or just misuse the technology because they don’t know it well enough.
- Lax government oversight: Since these vehicles are still new, they have to be tested before being allowed to operate on the public roads. If the regulatory agencies are too quick to permit experimental vehicle testing on public roads, there are always risks of crashes.
Responsibility of the manufacturer
Evidently, the responsibility of self-driving car mishaps will fall on the manufacturer when it occurs due to defective design, unsafe technologies, and lack of proper testing. These cases come under the coverage of product liability claims. You can expect the case to be complex, so would be best to have car accident lawyers dedicated to your case for handling the claim. Sometimes, you may be pitted against different companies in such cases because the software and hardware components for the vehicle may be supplied by different companies. It can be tough to determine the party at fault, but an expert lawyer can resolve the situation with their skills and experience.
Responsibility of the driver
Even while autonomous vehicles are driven by self-driving technology, the responsibility for any accidents is still with the driver who happens to be behind the wheel. When conditions are unsafe or a crash is imminent, the autonomous technology alerts the driver. At this stage, the driver must consider disengaging the autonomous mode and taking control of the vehicle. Many collisions happen because drivers fail to pay heed to these warnings. There is still a long way to go for making self-driving vehicles fully autonomous. Until then, they still require discretionary inputs and situational control of drivers. So there are good chances that the fault will be assigned to the driver in many cases.
Reaching out to a personal injury lawyer immediately makes sense for anyone injured in a traffic accident. But it becomes all the more important if the mishap involves a self-driving car because the guilty party may try to use the complexity of the case to their advantage. Lack of awareness is another reason why the risk of losing the claim runs high for victims. A seasoned lawyer, however, can get through the complications and help you secure the compensation you deserve.