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What happens when self-driving vehicles crash?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2023 | Car accidents

The vast majority of car crashes are the result of someone making a mistake or breaking a traffic law. If all motor vehicle operators focused their full energy on driving and cared deeply about following traffic rules, the number of collisions that take place would drop significantly.

The amount of human error on the road is one reason why many safety experts are enthusiastic about the potential of self-driving or autonomous vehicles. Once merely the stuff of speculative science fiction, self-driving vehicles have become an increasingly realistic technological concept. However, there are certain challenges inherent in having vehicles operate themselves. What happens when a self-driving or autonomous vehicle causes a crash?

The driver is likely the one to blame

There are not yet really significant statutes addressing autonomous vehicle collisions, nor is there much relevant precedence. Until state or federal lawmakers more thoroughly address this concern, it will remain a bit of a legal gray area.

So far, there have been at least 88 reported collisions involving self-driving vehicles in the United States. Most of these collisions were minor, but some of them involved multiple vehicles and human injuries. At this time, those who put their vehicles in self-driving mode and then completely rely on that technology would likely be to blame should the vehicle crash.

Still, the possibility exists for those affected by an autonomous vehicle crash to take action against a manufacturer. There have been instances where questionable programming has contributed to poor driving on the part of autonomous vehicles. When programming is the cause of a crash or when the vehicle’s manufacturer makes promises to an owner that the vehicle does not deliver in traffic, then the manufacturer may ultimately have some liability for any collision that occurs.

Unusual crashes can be harder to address

In a straightforward drunk driving crash, it is easy for everyone involved to know what to expect and who to blame. After more complicated cases, there can be a lot of nuance involved, making unusual collision scenarios a challenge for those injured and in need of compensation.

Tracking how the law changes to reflect the ever-evolving causes of motor vehicle collisions will help those hurt who have been hurt in a crash caused by a person or possibly a self-driving car to better understand their legal options and when they may have cause to file a lawsuit with the assistance of an experienced professional.