Due to the advancements of modern technology, autonomous (self-driving) motor vehicles have become a reality. While this technological innovation promises a future without traffic and collisions, there is still much progress to be made. Since testing in a limited capacity started a few years ago, numerous accidents have occurred, including a fatal collision.
So who is liable in a car accident involving a self-driving vehicle? The truth is that there are several parties which could be held responsible.
While these vehicles drive themselves, a person still needs to sit behind the wheel and remain alert at all times in the event of an emergency or situation which requires manual control. If a crash happens due to driver inattention, which is considered a negligent action with grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
For instance, autonomous vehicles are supposed to detect other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians within their surrounding area. If the system fails to recognize a person crossing the street, the individual in the driver’s seat should take control of the car and avoid striking the pedestrian. However, if the driver failed to do so because his/her attention was away from the road, the injured pedestrian can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent motorist.
If a driver is employed by the company that owns and operates an autonomous vehicle he/she drives when an accident occurs, the employer can be held liable due to the negligence of their employees, according to the respondeat superior legal doctrine. In other words, since the employee was performing a duty within the course of their employment, their employer can be held accountable for the employee’s actions.
Lastly, the manufacturer of the autonomous vehicle can be held responsible for a car accident and any associated injuries if the crash was caused by a defective product. Although the person sitting at the driver’s seat is the last line of defense to avoid a collision, the self-driving vehicle is designed to detect any objects surrounding it. If the detection feature fails to properly work as designed, this means that it is defective. Therefore, the vehicle manufacturer could be held liable for a victim’s injuries.
If you have been injured by a self-driving vehicle in Oklahoma, our Oklahoma City personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Dan Davis can evaluate your case and determine all of your legal options to help you maximize your entitled settlement. For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.