Who Is Responsible When Driverless Cars Crash?

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Driverless cars – automated vehicles that do not need any manual input from a human to determine direction or speed – are close to becoming a reality on roads and highways across America. One common fear that these robotic vehicles engender amongst the average human driver is whether these emotionless and preprogrammed cars and their artificial intelligence “drivers” are truly safer than their human counterparts. They also present a legal question: if a self-driving car is involved in a car accident, who is responsible for any injuries to the passengers of the driverless car or the occupants of any other vehicle involved in the crash?

  • The Other Driver is Responsible, of Course! An October 2015 article published on techcrunch.com and a follow-up article in December 2015 published on Bloomberg.com reveal that driverless cars have been getting into accidents caused by: human drivers. Whereas a self-driving car follows the rules of the road regardless of the road or traffic conditions, human drivers will take shortcuts or violate traffic laws inadvertently or intentionally. When a human driver causes or primarily contributes to the accident, then of course that driver can be held responsible for the injuries caused.
  • The Manufacturer of the Driverless Car: Right now there are only a few car manufacturers developing driverless cars. But in the coming years, more companies are expected to develop and market driverless cars. A manufacturer that designs a self-driving car with a design defect or manufacturers a defective driverless car may be able to be held liable for any damages or injuries if the defect causes or contributes to the accident.
  • The Manufacturer or Developer of a Part or Program of the Driverless Car: In a similar way, if the driverless car is programmed by a different firm than the car’s manufacturer, or if a part on the driverless car fails and contributes to the crash, this entity may also be responsible for the injuries sustained in the crash.
  • A Passenger of the Driverless Car: Some driverless cars allow the human occupants of the car to manually override the car’s computer, thereby controlling the car. If it is discovered that an occupant of the driverless car did override the car’s computer and take control of the driverless car, this person may be responsible for the injuries of those involved in any subsequent crash if this action caused or contributed to the crash.

Contact David R. Price, Jr., P.A., Greenville Car Accident Attorney 

Investigating the cause of car accidents involving two or more human drivers is complicated enough. The investigation of an accident in which a driverless car is involved can require consultation with specialized engineers and other experts to determine what role, if any, the driverless car and/or its computer programming played in causing or contributing to the crash. The law firm of David R. Price, Jr., P.A. is a resourceful and experienced South Carolina car crash law firm that has been helping injury victims hurt in car accidents under all types of circumstances recover compensation or their injuries. Contact David R. Price, Jr., and his law office by calling or contacting the firm online.


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