Self-Driving Car Accident Attorney

Lawyer For Those Injured In A Self-Driving Vehicle (SDV) Automobile Accident

lawyer for lawsuits from crash accident with self driving driverless motor vehicleDespite the advertising hype, self-driving automobile technology is not perfect.  New driverless vehicle technology has some serious issues that can cause collisions and fatal crashes.  Accidents involving autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles operated by artificial intelligence are more common that car-makers want you to believe.  

If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision involving a semi-automated or completely driverless vehicle you may wish to seriously considering hiring an attorney to manage the complex insurance claims process and possible auto defect litigation against the car-maker. 

Lawsuits and Settlement For Victims of Accidents Involving Self-Driving Cars, Driverless Automobiles, Or Fully Automated Motor Vehicles 

Car accidents involving driverless or self-driving vehicles have unique legal issues that require a skilled and experienced lawyer.  Davis Law Group is prepared to assist you with an injury claim or lawsuit following a self-driving car accident.  Call 206-727-4000 for a free consultation.  

Not As Safe As You May Think: Driverless Vehicle Innovation & Semi-Automated Transportation Technology

Problems With Crash Avoidance Technology

Auto-makers predict that self-driving automobiles—vehicles that car transport the occupants without requiring any direct effort or control from humans---will dramatically reduce accident injuries and traffic fatalities in the future.  Some estimate that by 2050 driverless cars could reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90 percent. 

Each year new vehicles are equipped with more, increasingly common, automated crash avoidance options such as autobrakes, adaptive headlights, blind-spot monitoring/warnings, forward-collision warnings and lane-departure warnings.  These are just some of the components of tomorrow’s fully automated vehicles.  

But many safety experts say the widely used term "self-driving" is misleading since the technology is still in its infancy and has some serious limitations.  The terms "partially-automated" or "driver-assist feature" are more accurate.  Experts say the technology is constantly improving, but the public must be better informed about its limits.

The expectation that there will be no motor vehicle accidents in the future is completely unrealistic especially during the expected long transition period (10 to 20 years) when conventional and self-driving vehicles will share the road.  Many safety experts expect that traffic collisions and serious accidents may actually increase for a period of time.  

Common Questions After Collision With A Driverless-Car

  • What causes a self-driving vehicle to cause a collision?
  • Who is responsible for an accident caused by a driverless vehicle?  The car owner or the car-maker?
  • Do driverless vehicles have/require special insurance coverage?
  • Can I sue the manufacturer of a self-driving vehicle (SDV) the caused a car crash?
  • Who will pay my medical bills if I was injured in a crash involving a self-driving car?

Serious Problems With Artificial Automobile Intelligence

Top 10 Causes of Self-Driving Automobile Accidents

  1. Certain weather conditions such as fog, heavy rain or snow can hide or distort the painted lines on roads and highways resulting in sensing technology being unable to gather sufficient information for reliable operation.
  2. Driverless technologies cannot easily recognize and negotiate unusual road conditions or situations where police or construction crews are required to direct traffic.
  3. Processing glitches, malfunctions or system failure (we’ve all experienced technology problems with computers) while traveling at high speed may cause accidents.  
  4. Vehicle cameras and sensors are dependent on a clear line of sight or view.  Vehicle shifting and changing angles of sunlight can cause sensors fail to pick up street signs, lane markings and pedestrians.  
  5. Sensors are currently mounted on vehicle bumpers making them vulnerable in minor fender benders and potentially causing damage that would prevent them from properly functioning. 
  6. Autonomous vehicles depend on accurate mapping through GPS.  Danger can arise when GPS maps are not updated or vehicles are out of range.
  7. Like any conventional automobile, driverless cars can experience vehicular failure or maintenance issues if not properly maintained.
  8. Autonomous driving technology may give drivers a false sense of security.
  9. Hackers can hijack self-driving vehicles and control them remotely
  10. Automated or remotely driven vehicles can easily be weaponized and used by criminals or terrorists. 

Numerous automobile manufacturers and technology companies are currently conducting research in this area including Google, Uber, Tesla Autopilot Mode, Ford, Audi, BMW, Hyundai, GM EN-V, Honda’s semi-autonomous vehicles, Apple GoMentum, Volvo’s DriveMe Program, Nissan ProPILOT, and Mercedes Benz was recently the first company to enable a big-rig truck to drive semi-autonomously.  Some auto-makers envision a future when vehicles will not have steering wheels, brake pedals or other controls for human occupants. 

Driverless Vehicle Laws & Safety Regulations

A number of state and federal organizations have begun to formulate safety regulation recommendations and guidelines for driverless vehicles in the hopes of reducing self-driving automobile accidents.  These organizations include: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); U.S. Department of Transportation; and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology.  The NHTSA has issued federal guidelines for the testing and rollout of autonomous vehicles that largely leave manufacturers free to experiment, although manufacturers need to get the safety regulator’s approval of vehicles before selling them to the public.

A number of states have created a patchwork of laws and regulations on self-driving cars.  Some states have released draft regulations that would require a driver to sit behind the wheel of even fully autonomous cars and also require anyone who wants to operate an autonomous vehicle to undergo special training in addition to already having a normal license.  But self-driving vehicle (SDV) manufacturers are already pushing back fearing that such laws would slow the adoption of SDVs.  

Self-Driving Automobile Insurance

Who Is Responsible For An Accident Caused By A Self-Driving Car?

Regardless of whether or not a human being is operating a motor vehicle, all vehicles are required to have automobile insurance to cover damages, harms and losses in the event of a collision.  The victim of a crash caused by a driverless car has the right to make a claim for damages.  Insurance is state-regulated. Each jurisdiction has its own set of rules for auto insurance and thus each state will have its own regulations for self-driving cars. 

Currently auto insurance companies base rates on what they know about the driver, the driver’s residential area and the car. In a situation where there may not be a human driver, coverage and rate decisions will be based on a wide range of variables such as traffic patterns, prevailing climatic conditions and the track record of the various technologies involved.

Insurance claims in self-driving vehicle crash cases pose unique challenges because identifying the specific technologies responsible for an accident may not always be easy.  In addition to having an insurance claim against the owner of a self-self driving vehicle, the victim of an accident caused by a self-driving car may have a claim against the car-maker. 

Product Liability Claims Against Manufacturers of Self-Driving Automobiles

Auto Defect Claims Involving Driverless Vehicles

Many automobile insurance companies have publicly stated that they assume that there will be a higher number of serious accident claims during the early years of driverless vehicle technology.  Numerous consumer research polls have shown that more than 50 percent of those surveyed believe that the manufacturer of a driverless car  should bear responsibility in case of an accident.

As crash avoidance technology become more advanced and cars are become increasingly more automated the burden of proof may fall to the manufacturer to prove it was not responsible for causing a crash. 

A 2014 RAND study on autonomous vehicles stated that manufacturers and suppliers and possibly even municipalities will be called upon to take responsibility for accidents caused by self-driving vehicles.  

Driverless Car Accident Lawyer

Car accidents involving driverless or self-driving vehicles have unique legal issues that require a skilled and experienced lawyer.  Davis Law Group is prepared to assist you with an injury claim or lawsuit following a self-driving car accident.  Call 206-727-4000 for a free consultation.  

References / Citations

  • "Pricing Insurance for Autonomous Vehicles." Insurance Journal. Wells Media Group, Inc., 8 Nov. 2016. Web.
  • "Self-Driving Cars and Insurance." Insurance Information Institute, July 2016. Web.
  • Halsey, Ashley. "When driverless cars crash, who gets the blame and pays the damages?" Washington Post 25 Feb. 2017: n. pag. Print.
  • "Who's Responsible When A Self-Driving Car Crashes?" Popular Science Magazine 18 June 2015: n. pag. Print.
  • Woodyard, Chris. "Study: Self-driving cars have higher accident rate." USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 31 Oct. 2015. Web. 
  • Schoettle, Brandon and Michael Sivak. “A Preliminary Analysis of Real-World Crashes Involving Self-Driving Vehicles.” (2015).
  • "Self-Driving Cars Get Into More Accidents, Study Finds." Time. 3 Nov. 2015. Web.