Self Driving or Autonomous cars are being touted as the future’s safest way to travel. Even the most reliable modes of travel, however, can become hazardous in certain conditions. When you take away the operator of a vehicle, and allow the path to rely on computers, sensors, artificial intelligence, and mathematics, you succeed in eliminating human error from playing a role in accidents or mishaps. Yet, what is also eliminated in taking the human element out of the picture is the chance to react to situations that call for critical thinking, not computation.
Who is liable in a Self Driving, Autonomous Car Accident?
The prospect, and very concept for that matter, of autonomous cars raises several ethical questions—most of which have no satisfactory answer. The most common dilemma tossed into the fray of discourse by philosophers is that of what happens if some pedestrian crosses the road and the vehicle does not have adequate time to stop. Who does the vehicle condemn? The passenger or the pedestrian? Neither option is favorable, yet one of the two must occur.
Additionally, because of the novelty of this technology, specific laws and regulations have yet to be established regarding driverless cars and liability. The problem might lie with the software, in which case fault can be derived from the developer; it might lie with the hardware, in which case the manufacturer is liable; or, it might be a simple defect with any part of the car itself. There are a multitude of possible ways liability could be discerned and then delegated, resulting in a complicated system of determining fault when pursuing legal action.
Are Driverless Cars Safe?
55% of surveyed drivers claim they would trust an autonomous vehicle so long as that vehicle has a proven better record—and is thus dependably safer—than human-driven vehicles. With technology changing every day, it is safe to assume that this future is not far from the horizon. The important thing to realize is that, though there may be a drastic difference in the percentage of vehicles that do not require human operation, eliminating an estimated 94% human error causation for accidents—drunk driving, distracted driving, and falling asleep while driving—one fact remains: a car is a car and an accident an accident, no matter whether caused by human or computer.
Take the instance of the victim of a self-driving car accident in May of 2016, whose brakes did not engage despite a truck ahead giving clear indication that it was turning. The passenger perished due to the cameras and sensors not functioning properly in Tesla’s Autopilot system. It is likely that, as the technology and understanding improves, autonomous vehicles will likely be safer than those operated by humans. This is one instance where a vehicle failed to utilize all maintained systems, resulting in an accident. Looking at the numbers of accidents caused by humans, however, it can be deduced that one accident, while inevitably tragic, cannot be seen as a reason to believe such vehicles will not see a rise in prevalence over the next few years. Instead, it creates a realistic understanding that these cars, too, will experience accidents.
As any owner of a laptop or desktop computer can attest, software and hardware do not always function as intended. Will driverless cars operate as intended each individual trip? This is an impossible expectation and, though an errorless system would be ideal, it is impractical to not account for the possibility of an accident. Weather, a large factor in motor vehicle accidents across the board, has been known to cause issues with cameras and other sensors for driverless vehicles, resulting in inaccurate calculations or improper procedures. As with anything in life, nothing is guaranteed. While safety and well being are desired, Lemberg Law knows that accidents do happen.
Want to learn more about the safety of driverless cars? Read our article about the Pros and Cons of Autonomous Vehicles here.
How a Lawyer Can Help in the Event of a Self Driving, Autonomous Car Accident
The motor vehicle defect attorneys at Lemberg Law have been closely monitoring the development of technology for self driving and autonomous cars for some time now and more than capable in helping you navigate the (confusing) ins and outs of an accident involving a driverless car.
Victims of a motor vehicle accident, including those involving self driving cars, may be entitled to compensation. Call, chat with us or fill out the form to the right for a free case evaluation. You may be eligible to be compensated for:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Home healthcare
- Diminished quality of life
Life after an accident is never easy. Suddenly there are unexpected bills and no income with which to pay them. You experience discomfort or pain daily and your routine in no way resembles what it used to. Your life has been interrupted, drastically and without warning. Now you want to act against the liable parties for this adversity, but there are too many directions in which you could go, too many possible approaches. We’re here to help.
If you have been involved in an accident involving a driverless car, you likely have experienced enough difficulty. Let Lemberg Law assist you by doing the groundwork and handling your case, ensuring you receive all the compensations you deserve and nothing less. Give our offices a call at 475-277-2200 for your case evaluation. There is no obligation and no fee. Accidents happen. We’re here when they do.