Vehicle technology is changing at a rapid pace. More and more, vehicles are becoming autonomous, particularly with specific features of the vehicle. In some areas around the country, self-driving cars have been tested for years, and we are edging closer and closer to seeing these vehicles all across the country. However, what happens if an accident occurs involving a self-driving vehicle?
Here, we want to examine this liability dilemma, and we also want to look at who could be at fault if an autonomous driving feature in a more traditional vehicle leads to an accident occurring.
We want to be clear that there are no completely self-driving vehicles that have been approved for regular use with consumers as of 2022. Any self-driving vehicles on the roadway are currently being tested in limited areas around the country.
There have been self-driving vehicle accidents, however. In 2018, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, even though there was a “test” driver behind the wheel who was supposed to take over and control the vehicle if any potential accident were about to occur. After a brief pause in self-driving vehicle testing, the testing resumed, and advancements have been made since. In fact, self-driving 18 Wheelers have begun testing operations between Tucson and Phoenix.
Because self-driving cars are not made available to consumers for regular use yet, liability for these incidents will typically fall to the companies testing the vehicles. If an accident involving a self-driving vehicle occurs, it is crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
What we do have on our roadways are autonomous vehicles. Just about any modern vehicle has some level of automation. This can include the lowest level of vehicle automation, such as steering assistance or breaking and acceleration assistance, including adaptive cruise control.
However, other modern vehicles on the roadway have more advanced levels of automation, including vehicles that can park themselves or stay within the lanes of a highway without any driver input on the steering wheel.
Regardless of the level of automation, every vehicle requires a driver sitting in the driver’s seat who can take over and handle any possible emergency situation that arises. Vehicle companies have made it very clear that drivers are supposed to be in a position to retake control of the vehicle at all times.
In the event an accident occurs with a vehicle operating using an autonomous feature, the incident will need to be investigated just like any other type of accident. If the driver of a vehicle with an autonomous feature activated is found to be responsible for an accident, then their insurance carrier will be responsible for paying compensation to others involved.
If you or somebody you love has been injured in an accident with a self-driving or autonomous driving vehicle, we encourage you to reach out to a Denver car accident attorney immediately. These cases are complicated, but a lawyer will use their resources to fully investigate the incident in order to determine liability and help you recover compensation for your losses.