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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Who Is at Fault in a Self-driving Car Accident? | Liability Explained by Houston Attorneys

Pursuing compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident involving a self-driving vehicle can be challenging. However, Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have decades of combined experience helping injured victims pursue legal action and recover the compensation they deserve.

Those who are suffering from injuries in a driverless vehicle accident in Houston, Texas, due to another's negligence must reach out to the legal team at Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. They can help assess the case and guide the injured victims on what's best for them as well as explain who is at fault in a multi car rear end accident.

Are Self-driving Cars Fully Autonomous Vehicles?

When it comes to self-driving cars, the law recognizes these types of automobiles as either fully autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles. The difference between the two is that the former does not require a driver to drive, while the latter requires human intervention.

Are Self-driving Cars Common in the United States?

Are Self-driving Cars Common in the United States?

According to PolicyAdvice, there are over 1,400 self-driving cars tested by more than 80 companies across the United States. However, there are many more on the roads today that have self-driving capabilities but are not fully autonomous.

Mordor Intelligence estimates the value of the US autonomous car market at $12.27 billion in 2023, and its report expects the market size to grow to $31.17 billion by the year 2028.

This explosive growth may be a positive step for the tech industry. However, it also increases the risk of accidents, which can result in injuries or even death.

Examples of Recent Accidents Involving Self-driving Cars in the US

Currently, the three biggest companies that are working towards a fully autonomous vehicle future are Waymo, Tesla, and Uber. Although these tech giants are leading the industry with innovation, they've also faced backlash from the media and the American public, especially in recent years.

Although Tesla is a pioneer in autonomous technology, its self-driving vehicles are notorious for crashing. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 17 deaths and 736 accidents since 2019. An auto accident lawyer in Houston can give more information on this.

However, the company argued that its vehicles have SAE Level 2 driving automation systems, which means that they're not autonomous, but many car owners are treating them as if they were.

Uber and Waymo also faced scrutiny after their vehicles, equipped with self-driving technology, crashed on numerous occasions.

Who Is at Fault in a Self-driving Car Accident?

Unlike a typical car accident, determining liability in a self-driving vehicle collision is not straightforward. There are many different parties that could be liable, some of which include the following:

The Human Driver

In most accidents involving driverless cars, it is the human driver who is responsible for any injuries or deaths caused. The law refers to them as operators.

Although a self-driving car is not fully autonomous, it has self-driving capabilities that require human intervention every now and then. Even vehicle manufacturers have warned operators against sleeping or being distracted behind the wheel, requiring them to stay focused with their hands on the steering at all times.

If the operator is reckless, does not pay attention to the road, or sleeps behind the wheel, they are acting negligently. This can lead to a self-driving car accident for which the injured victims may be able to pursue compensation against the operator's insurance company.

The Vehicle Manufacturer

The manufacturers of self-driving cars in the United States protect themselves from liability by requiring car owners to sign end-user licensing agreements and other legal documents.

However, these types of documentation do not shield them from car defects. If an individual suffers injuries due to a malfunction in their self-driving car, under the personal injury law, they may be able to pursue civil action against the vehicle manufacturer.

The Technology Designer

A self-driving vehicle has many cameras and radars that let the software know what is happening, allowing it to make safe driving decisions. However, a fault in the software code or the technology could result in a serious car accident for which the injured parties may be able to pursue compensation.

When a human operator relies entirely on the automated driving system to navigate the roads, it increases the risk of accidents. Autonomous cars have not reached the level of autonomy associated with fully self-driving vehicles, and any delays in software processing can be the difference between life and death.

It's very tricky to determine whether the accident resulted from the negligence of the technology designer. When the Boeing 737 Max crashed (not once, but twice), the manufacturer and the technology designer did not accept responsibility for the incident, passing the blame onto the pilots.

However, after a detailed investigation into the incident, the investigative report revealed that the software, in combination with the faulty sensors, resulted in two of the most significant aviation accidents in recent history.

A Government Agency

It is the responsibility of certain government agencies to ensure the safety of drivers, riders, and pedestrians on the roads and highways in Texas.

Failure to maintain the roads or lack of warning signs can result in accidents, for which the relevant department may be liable.

Other Road Users

There could be other drivers or riders who may fail to follow the traffic laws or act negligently, resulting in a serious accident. In such cases, self-driving car accident victims may be able to pursue civil action against them.

What Should Injured Victims Do After Suffering Injuries in a Self-driving Car Accident?

What Should Injured Victims Do After Suffering Injuries in a Self-driving Car Accident?

Whether it is the human operator, a pedestrian, or any other road user, the steps they take after getting involved in a self-driving car accident can determine the outcome of their personal injury case.

The following are the steps the injured victims should take after suffering injuries from self-driving car accidents:

  1. Call 911 for help.

  2. Exchange insurance information and contact details with the other parties involved in the crash.

  3. Gather evidence by taking pictures of the accident scene, the motor vehicles involved, the injuries sustained, and other essential details.

  4. Wait for the police officer to arrive so that they can file an accident report and provide assistance if required.

  5. Head over to a hospital for medical treatment for the injuries.

  6. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to discuss the case.

Those self-driving car accident victims who are suffering injuries due to another's negligence can call to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, as they may be able to recover compensatory damages!

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