Autonomous Self-Driving Car Accidents & Who is Responsible?

HutzlerLaw July 1, 2022

Self-driving cars are becoming more popular, and they are such a big part of the future of automobile technology. With the increase in self-driving cars, the likelihood of a self-driving car accident is on the rise too. Companies like Tesla, BMW, Uber now have all come out with their versions of these types of vehicles. In most circumstances, however, these self-driving cars are not available for use by the general public.

Tesla is different, however, as they boast about the Autopilot function available on the newest models. This feature allows the car to drive fully on its own. The company does still state in their manuals and website, however, that the driver is responsible. They should always look out for safety concerns and take over when they exist.

Despite these protections, Tesla put in place, and the lack of availability of self-driving cars, an autonomous self-driving car accident can still occur. If you are not the active driver, it can be difficult to determine fault. Finding who is responsible, however, is essential in any car accident. After a determination of liability, you can work with and experienced car accident lawyer at Hutzler Law to receive compensation for car accident injuries.


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Gain a Better Understanding of Self-Driving Vehicles

Before discussing faults and accidents in self-driving vehicles, you must better understand how these vehicles operate. Just know that the word autonomous may interchange with the word self-driving. Both mean the same.

The National Highway Traffic Administration shares that cruise control and driver-assistance technology are level one or two types of autonomous driving. Vehicles able to go without a driver behind the wheel would be a level four or five, meaning it is fully independent. This type of self-driving car is the most forward-thinking and the topic of this article.

According to statistics, fully autonomous vehicles are more likely to cause accidents.

The general public, however, may not know the details of these types of crashes. Most drivers state that they would feel more comfortable in a car that can drive itself.

 

Statistics About Accidents in Self-Driving Cars

Most statistics for self-driving vehicles come from the manufacturers themselves. As mentioned, most of the public does not have access to them as of yet. Either way, learn more about the accidents that happen in these vehicles below.

  • February 2016: Self-driving car made by Google crashes on its first drive into a bus
  • May 7, 2016: Tesla vehicle with autopilot feature causes its first death in an accident
  • Prior to 2018: 37 crashes in Uber self-driving cars
  • November 30, 2018: Uber self-driving vehicle gets into an accident killing a pedestrian
  • April 2019: Tesla self-driving vehicle crashed into a tree, killing two men
  • May 2021: Waymo self-driving taxi takes off and collides with several vehicles in Phoenix
  • Throughout years of testing, Waymo vehicles had two collisions while reversing, three incidents with pedestrians, 10 sideswipe accidents, 15 rear-end collisions, and 10 angled collisions

 

Self Driving Autonomous Car Accident

Source: Photo by Air15 – Waymo Car Accident May 2018

Who is at Fault in These Self-Driving Car Accident Scenarios?

In an accident with two standard vehicles in Arizona, there is usually one driver at fault. That person, who is liable, has to use their insurance to pay for any damages to the other driver involved and even to themselves if full coverage is present. In the current self-driving vehicles available, it is essential that you understand that the owner can take over if they feel that a car wreck is about to happen.

Many factors go into the determination of who is at fault in an accident with a self-driving vehicle. Ultimately, all of the considerations fall back on what caused the car to crash. Better understand any of the potential reasons for the wreck, which will help anyone decide liability, in the list below.

The Error of the Owner of a Self-Driving Car

In both of the Tesla accidents mentioned above, the company claimed the driver was at fault. They made this statement as the company believed human error led to the crashes. When considering any vehicle accident in this country, 94% of causes are a mistake that the driver made.

Even in a self-driving car, the owner should always have their eyes on the road.

It is important to always feel in control to prepare for and know when to take over the wheel. If the evidence points to a lack of care, you could be at fault.

Malfunctions on the Vehicle

The second most common cause of accidents on any vehicle, including self-driving cars, is a malfunction in the machine. These instances can include when your vehicle breaks down, for example. You should prove that you had full attention on the road in these instances.

If you knew what the vehicle was doing at all points in your drive, you could avoid fault. If the brakes suddenly fail, for instance, you and the other driver may have the chance to sue the manufacturer. This malfunction may even eventually become a recall that other drivers will need to fix for their safety.

Defect of the Autonomous Modes

The driving modes in any of the self-driving vehicles are part of the design of the car. Anything that contributes to the autonomous nature of these machines, including the software, cameras, and any other hardware, can play a part. Sometimes, however, a defect exists on any of these design factors.

Design defects and bugs in the software can cause a vehicle accident. Flaws in the computer system may be why the accident with the Waymo self-driving taxi took place, for instance. If there is evidence of these defects after talking with Hutzler Law, you can sue the designers themselves.

Possible Compensation for Self-Driving Incidents

If you are at fault, the other driver can sue you as the owner for compensation. This process is the same as with a regular vehicular crash, and typically, it will cover the cost of medical expenses. It may also, however, cover the cost of property damage when your insurance exceeds its limits.

Typically, if you are at fault, insurance companies of all drivers involved will battle. The holder of your policy will ensure you are liable before paying out to the other party. The same is true if you are not at fault, as the other driver’s insurance will decide if they are responsible.

In the rare instance that the self-driving vehicle malfunctioned in its mechanics, you or the other driver can sue the manufacturer.

You have a right to compensation for the parts that did not work as they should have. When making and designing a vehicle, it is the company’s responsibility to ensure it is safe for consumer use. Remember, you need to prove you had some control over your car, even in autonomous mode.

 

The Steps to Take After an Accident in a Self-Driving Vehicle

The first step of any accident is to seek medical care, even if you are at fault. You never know what injuries could be underneath the surface, even if you initially feel okay. After seeking the care you need in the ambulance, follow the steps below if you are able.

  • 1. Stay at the accident until the police talk to you.
  • 2. Gather pictures of the accident from every angle and of both vehicles.
  • 3. Write down your statement so that you can recall what happened perfectly. Read off your statement to the police, and be sure to describe any malfunctions in the autonomous mode that may be present.
  • 4. Ask for witnesses, and listen to their perspectives of the crash.
  • 5. Call your insurance company to file a claim, whether or not you are a fault.
  • 6. Save all bills from the medical help you receive.

File a Self-Driving Car Accident Injury Claim

Gain Compensation from Your Self-Driving Car Accident

At Hutzler Law, the attorneys closely monitor the technological advancements that come with self-driving vehicles. This subject is of increasing importance to the legal team, especially with the variety of accidents occurring with Waymo. The attorneys have a growing understanding of how these self-driving vehicles can cause accidents, therefore injuring you and others.

If you are in a vehicular crash with an autonomous vehicle, you deserve compensation, especially if there was a malfunction or a defect of some form. If you had full attention, the manufacturer could be at fault for the accident rather than you.

Remember compensation is always available for any accident in Arizona that you are not at fault for if another driver began the wreck too. Do not wait, and contact Hutzler Law as soon as your self-driving vehicle accident happens.