Who is responsible for an accident involving a self-driving car?

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self-driving car

To prevent car crashes, car companies nowadays use advanced technology systems and algorithms to equip vehicles with self-driving capabilities. Self-driving cars also known as autonomous vehicles are seen more and more on the road as they are intended to help drivers be safer. Essentially, these vehicles aim to make vehicles that are driver optional as their software can detect their environment and navigate to a desired destination without human involvement. With car companies racing to develop autonomous vehicles, many people wonder who may be liable for an accident involving a self-driving car. Keep reading to learn who is responsible for an accident involving a self-driving car and how a determined New York City Car Accident Lawyer can help you today. 

Who could be liable for an accident involving an autonomous vehicle?

The intention behind the creation of autonomous vehicles is to reduce the number of accidents caused by driver error and negligence. Vehicles with self-driving capabilities allow drivers to choose between controlling their vehicle or allowing the vehicle’s software to take them to their desired destination. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, there are different levels of driving automation:

  • Level 0: The car has no automation. The motorist controls the vehicle
  • Level 1: There is minimal assistance from the driver.
  • Level 2: The car is equipped with partial automation. This includes features such as cruise control where the driver is still in control of the vehicle.
  • Level 3: The car can operate without a driver controlling it. However, a driver is still necessary.
  • Level 4: The car can operate without a driver controlling it. However, the driver can regain control if they wish.
  • Level 5: The car is fully automated. The driver is not in control of the vehicle and there is no need for human interaction.

Regardless of the degree of automation, motorists are expected to exercise reasonable care while behind the wheel. This means motorists even if they are not in control of their vehicle must stay alert and engaged in case they have to regain control at any point. Autonomous vehicles are like any other vehicle in the sense that there can be manufacturing issues or software issues that cause a collision to occur. Motorists must remain alert while behind the wheel to prevent serious accidents and injuries. The human operator of the vehicle, the vehicle’s manufacturer, and the software designer of the vehicle can be liable for an accident. Ultimately, it depends on the circumstances of the accident. If a motorist was negligent, they can be held liable for the collision. If an accident was caused by a malfunctioning part such as a faulty break, the manufacturer can be held liable as there was nothing the driver could have done to prevent a crash. If there was an issue with the technology system such as a problem with the vehicle’s sensors, the software designer may be held responsible for the accident. Determining liability after an accident involving an autonomous vehicle can be challenging as they are still uncharted territory for insurance companies.

If you need help investigating the circumstances of an accident involving a self-driving car, speak with a skilled New York City car accident lawyer who can help you establish fault.

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