For sci-fi fans, the idea of autonomous vehicles has been a dream for decades. But autonomous vehicles are slowly becoming a reality.
Even though it may be a few years before fully autonomous vehicles are widespread, driver assistance technologies are quite common today. Unfortunately, this means that autonomous vehicle crashes are becoming more common as well.
Fully autonomous versus driver assistance
Most car manufacturers have some version of an autonomous driver-assistance system, even if it is just traffic-based cruise control that slows and speeds up based on the car in front of you. However, some carmakers offer more extensive driver assistance. Tesla outfits some of its vehicles with what it calls Full Self Driving mode.
These systems are designed to allow drivers more freedom, but they always warn their customers to always keep their hands on the wheel and alter.
Of course, YouTube videos show us that this is simply not always happening. Tesla drivers now routinely post videos of themselves not even being in the driver’s seat.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that this technology is not without its dangers. Indeed, there are hundreds of traffic accidents every year that involve driver assistance technology and fully autonomous vehicles. As a result, several people die each year. This is a problem that will only get worse as the technology improves and proliferates.
Who is responsible when autonomous vehicles crash?
This is a question that will become more and more important in the years ahead. Can a driver simply say, “not my fault” and point to their car? Likely, no.
As a practical matter, until the laws catch up with technology, insurance companies would likely treat this driver at fault, and your attorney would simply fight over the amount.
Where there is a real claim of appropriate use and no negligence, the personal injury lawsuit can become much more complicated. This is because the manufacturer and seller of the vehicle may have liability. Even the dealerships that performed maintenance could have some liability.
It really depends on the facts of the case and what caused the accident.