Who is Liable in Accidents Involving Automated Vehicles?

Automated cars at intersection

Automated vehicles are no longer a sci-fi concept waiting to happen but a reality. Tests happen on our roads, changing the way we think about driving. Even though they are touted for their potential to reduce human error and make driving safer, there still is the chance for danger. From July 2021 to June 2022, there were 12 accidents reported involving automated vehicles. This new technology raises new and complex questions about liability in the event of an accident. Who is liable? Is the vehicle's owner, manufacturer, software provider, or the passenger behind the driver’s seat liable?

Who is Responsible?

If the police are able to determine the cause of the accident was the result of the non-autonomous car, then the result will most likely be what we see with current car accident cases where the driver is responsible.

When it comes to automated vehicles, it’s not as easy to determine who is the party responsible.

The Human Operator

So far, automated vehicles have the option for the human behind the wheel to take control of the vehicle in the event of something unexpected. If they are not paying attention when the accident happens or are in control of the vehicle and cause the accident, they can become liable.

The Vehicle Manufacturer

Because autonomous vehicle manufacturers aim to eliminate the risk of injury, they may like to claim full responsibility for the driver of the other vehicle. This isn’t necessarily the case, as these cars are still in the testing phase. Things can go wrong, just as they can with other motor vehicles, such as failing brakes, faulty lights, or other mechanical problems. Because of this, there is the possibility that the vehicle manufacturer can be the cause of the accident.

The Software Provider

The technology for automated vehicles is still new and needs more testing before the vehicles can become more widely available. If the system malfunctions or fails to detect danger, it could fall on the software provider to be responsible for an accident.

How to Navigate Liability

There are still few legal cases involving autonomy and accidents, so there is yet to be precedent or a total answer to questions of liability regarding accidents involving automated vehicles. Policymakers and the courts are still working to address questions of liability. In the future, they could consider collaborative driving as a system that divides liability between the system and humans. Or regulations that require regular updates and inspections could become the norm to incentivize manufacturers to ensure safety on the road.

As it stands now, if you are involved in a crash with an automated vehicle, the best course of action is to work with a personal injury attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve.

At Rafi Law Group, we have helped recover millions for victims of car accidents. We are passionate about assisting people seek compensation and secure justice.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, Call Rafi at (623) 207-1555.

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