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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Whose Fault Is It If a Self-driving Car Hits a Pedestrian?

There was a time when seeing self-driving cars on the road was only possible in science fiction movies.

However, technology has made great strides regarding automated driving systems, and self-driving vehicles could soon become a lot more common on the highways of Texas.

However, there is still a lot of debate regarding the safety of sharing the road with autonomous vehicles. There have been reports of road accidents involving autonomous cars in Texas and other states in the U.S.

As such, car accident attorneys have had to adapt to the ever-changing laws regarding personal injury cases in which self-driving cars are involved.

Regardless of whether or not a human driver was behind the wheel of the at-fault vehicle, victims of car accidents are still entitled to fair compensation.

Who will pay for damages? This is the question Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys will help victims to answer.

What Is a Self-driving Vehicle?

What Is a Self-driving Vehicle?

In its simplest format, the definition of a self-driving car, or autonomous vehicle is that it is a car capable of driving itself without the aid of a human driver.

These driverless cars have complex software systems that allow them to navigate through roads and avoid other vehicles and pedestrians.

However, it is rare to find a fully autonomous vehicle on the road today. Most self-driving cars still require some level of human intervention.

One of the main reasons for increasing the level of automation in motor vehicles is to improve the safety of all road users.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that more than 38,000 victims lost their lives in road accidents in the U.S. in 2020 alone.

Looking closer at these accidents, it is clear that some of the main causes, such as human error, drunk driving, and speeding are things that can be avoided by using self-driving cars.

However, some criticize self-driving cars for their lack of reliability, which is often caused by software systems that are still a long way from achieving full automation capabilities.

Six Automation Levels in Self-driving Cars

According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, vehicles fall into one of the following six levels of automation:

Level 0 - No Automation

Level 1 - Minimal assistance on braking and the steering wheel

Level 2 - Partial driving automation, such as adaptive cruise control

Level 3 - Conditional automation where the car can operate without the driver's control but requires them to pay attention in case they need to intervene

Level 4 - High driving automation where under certain conditions, the car does not need the driver to intervene

Level 5 - Full driving automation in which the vehicle can operate without a driver

As these levels show, it is not enough to say any car with an automated driving system is a self-driving car, especially when determining liability.

The self-driving features must be well-defined so that Houston pedestrian injury attorneys can decide the level of involvement of the driver compared to the self-driving system.

Who’s at Fault in a Self-driving Car Accident?

Determining fault in self-driving crashes offers many new challenges for a personal injury attorney. The self-driving capabilities of the vehicle need to be defined, and then the at-fault party is identified from several possibilities.

In most self-driving car accidents, one of the following is usually to blame:

Human Driver

Driver error has been at the heart of many road accidents long before the first autonomous vehicle crashes were recorded in Texas.

Even now, with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the need for human intervention still leaves room for human error.

One of the most common causes is that the drivers who are supposed to be paying attention to the car usually relax or zone off.

When the car requires driver assistance in certain situations, the driver's reactions may be too slow leading to a car accident.

Vehicle Manufacturer

When self-driving cars are involved in accidents, an experienced personal injury attorney usually looks closely at the self-driving car companies.

Car manufacturers are competing strongly against each other to become the first to give the world fully autonomous vehicles that are safe, reliable, and affordable. As such, mistakes when making the self-driving car are common.

If it can be shown that a defect in the design of the autonomous car is to blame for the self-driving car accident, the car's manufacturer will be held liable for damages to the victims.

Software Developers

The most important self-driving feature of any driverless vehicle is the automation software. If the self-driving car accident is caused by an inadequate system that was unable to cope with the situation, the software developer will be held liable for the accident.

The combination of artificial intelligence, radar, cameras, and other sensors has to be perfect if a self-driving car accident is to be prevented.

As such, it is the software developer's responsibility to determine the limitations of the system so that the correct self-driving mode can be used.

Other Road Users

In some cases, other road users may be to blame for the car accident. This includes pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and human-driven cars. Looking closely at how the accident happened will help an experienced car accident attorney determine who is to blame for the crash. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has more information on questions such as What are the most common causes of pedestrian accidents?

In Texas, modified comparative negligence laws mean that in many cases, the pedestrian who was hit by the self-driving car may have to accept a share of the blame for an accident involving a self-driving car.

A Good Lawyer Can Help Victims of Self-driving Car Accidents

A Good Lawyer Can Help Victims of Self-driving Car Accidents

Whose fault is it if a self-driving car hits a pedestrian? This is a question that can best be answered during a free case evaluation with an experienced car accident attorney. They can also answer other questions like Is lane splitting legal in Texas?

The already intricate Texas legal system is set to become a lot more complex as Tesla vehicles and other self-driving cars are introduced on the road.

It is up to a car accident lawyer to evaluate human drivers, the company responsible for the autonomous car, and other factors in a bid to win damages for the victim.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is ready to go to war for victims of a self-driving car accident.


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