Commercially available self-driving cars are being touted as one of the next great innovations in transportation technology. Many individuals are not quite ready to accept the prospect of sharing the road with non-human drivers. A recent crash involving Uber’s self-driving car in Arizona demonstrated that these vehicles can be involved in accidents just like human-driven vehicles can be, shattering some of the perceived infallibility of the software controlling this vehicle. Although the accident was fairly minor and did not result in any human casualties, it caused Uber to suspend its testing of self-driving vehicles in the United States.
Uber is not the only company that is currently testing self-driving vehicle technology. Most recently, Apple Inc. announced plans to develop and test autonomous driving software. Google and Tesla have also tested autonomous vehicles to determine their viability. Commercial truck manufacturers have developed self-driving truck technology as well, which can potentially reduce the number of truck accidents on American roadways if it becomes widely adopted.
Liability in Car Accidents Involving Self-Driving Cars
In the Uber accident discussed above, the driver of the other vehicle was deemed at fault for the accident. If there had been passengers in the Uber car that were injured in the accident, they likely would have been able to file personal injury claims against the responsible driver.
When a self-driving vehicle is at fault for an accident, it might not be as easy to determine the at-fault party. In a typical car accident case, a driver is at fault if they are deemed to have acted in a negligent manner, such as disregarding posted traffic rules or text messaging while driving. A computer program would ideally not make these errors, which can make it difficult to find the program, the self-driving car’s “driver,” at fault for an accident. In a case involving a rideshare company like Uber, Uber could be deemed to be the responsible party because the driverless vehicle was part of its fleet and thus covered by its insurance policy. However, the issue of assigning fault to a driverless vehicle is a difficult one, and one that insurance providers and lawmakers will need to determine over the next decade.
Determining liability in car accidents caused by self-driving vehicles will likely involve determining where the error occurred. A programming error could put the vehicle’s developer at fault. An error that occurred due to poor maintenance or a manual override could cause the vehicle’s owner to be deemed negligent. This also opens up the question of whether a car’s software developer’s fault is separate from its manufacturer’s fault. For example, if Volkswagen outsourced the development of its self-driving vehicle software, then one of its vehicles caused an accident because of a glitch in its programming, it might not be immediately obvious whether Volkswagen or the development company is at fault. This will make the issue of product liability a much greater concern in the realm of auto accident cases.
Camden Car Accident Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Represent Victims Injured in Car Accidents
Any type of collision, whether it is with a pedestrian, another motorist, a self-driving vehicle, or a stationary object, can leave you seriously injured and facing steep financial damages. Do not allow your injury to create a financial burden on you and your family. Complete our online contact form or call 856-414-0010 to schedule a free consultation with a Camden car accident lawyer at DiTomaso Law. Our offices are located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Philadelphia, where we serve clients throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania.