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6 Steps to Take After a Self-Driving Car Accident

self driving car

What Happens if a Self-Driving Car Injures Someone?

While the rise of self-driving technology has led to many benefits, including improved safety and efficiency on the road, there are still concerns regarding potential car accidents and injuries caused by these vehicles. In most traditional car accidents, the driver of the vehicle is typically liable for any injuries or damages that occur. However, with self-driving cars, the lines of liability become blurred, raising questions about who is responsible in the event of an accident.

In this post, we’ll explore the legal implications of autonomous vehicles and review what steps to take after a self-driving car accident injury.

Common Issues with Self-Driving Vehicles

A major challenge in determining liability in self-driving car accidents is the role of artificial intelligence (AI). Self-driving cars rely on complex algorithms and sensors to make decisions while on the road, making it difficult to assign fault for any accidents that occur. In some cases, the AI system may malfunction or make an incorrect decision to cause an accident, raising questions about who is responsible for ensuring the safety and accuracy of these systems.

Additional concerns about autonomous vehicles that threaten roadway safety include:

  • Autopilot errors: Some autonomous vehicle accidents occur due to improper autopilot use. For example, a 2019 Tesla crash occurred because the driver was using cruise control in a rural area where Tesla’s autopilot technology wasn’t designed to be used.
  • Driver inattention: Many self-driving car accidents occur because the driver wasn’t paying attention, relying fully on the autonomous system instead.
  • Misidentification of roadway obstacles: Self-driving cars sometimes fail to register hazards and obstacles in the road, increasing the risk of rear-end accidents and fatal collisions.

Understanding Product Liability Law

Although the legal landscape is slowly evolving to address the complexities of self-driving car accidents, there are still gray areas. As self-driving technology continues to develop, a primary concern regarding roadway safety and autonomous vehicles is the issue of liability, specifically the blurring of lines between driver negligence and product liability. In an autonomous vehicle accident, liability for injuries generally falls under product liability law.

Who Is Liable in a Self-Driving Car Accident?

While determining liability in a self-driving car accident can be complex, various parties can be held responsible for damages. Common liable parties in autonomous vehicle accidents include:

  • The human operator: If the autonomous vehicle was being operated by a human driver at the time of the accident, they may be liable for any injuries that occur. This is especially true if the human driver was meant to be monitoring and controlling the vehicle at the time of the accident.
  • The manufacturer: If a malfunction in the AI system caused the accident, the manufacturer of the self-driving vehicle may be liable under product liability law. This includes issues with sensors, software, or other components that contributed to the accident.
  • The software developer: If the AI system was programmed incorrectly or had a glitch that caused the accident, the software developer may be held responsible for any resulting injuries or damages. This is another aspect of product liability law.

6 Steps to Take After a Self-Driving Car Accident

Taking swift legal action is paramount to recovering damages in a self-driving car accident. If you were wrongfully injured by an autonomous vehicle, it’s important to take the following steps to pursue fair compensation:

  1. Report the accident: If it hasn’t been reported already, be sure to report the accident to the appropriate authorities. Be sure to request a copy of the report, as it will contain essential details about the accident and can help establish fault.
  2. Gather evidence: Collect as much information as you can from the accident scene, including photos of the damages, the location, traffic signs, and any nearby security cameras that may have recorded the accident.
  3. Seek medical attention: Even if your injuries seem minor, it's important to seek immediate medical attention to officially document your injuries and rule out serious underlying injuries, such as internal bleeding and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Your medical records will be critical evidence to support your claim.
  4. Document everything: Keep a record of all medical treatments, repairs, and any other accident-related expenses. This documentation will be important for compensation claims.
  5. Secure experienced representation from a qualified attorney: The laws surrounding self-driving vehicles are complex and still evolving. An attorney who is knowledgeable about Illinois law and autonomous vehicle technology will be instrumental in navigating your claim.
  6. Do not negotiate with insurance companies on your own: Insurance companies often attempt to settle quickly and evade a fair payout, resulting in less compensation than you deserve. Your attorney can facilitate communication with your insurer and other involved parties to ensure you aren’t taken advantage of.

Award-Winning Personal Injury Lawyers in Illinois

Given the complexities and legal gray areas of self-driving car accidents, seeking sound counsel from an attorney with extensive knowledge of personal injury law is critical to obtaining a favorable settlement. At Turner Law Group, our compassionate advocates have over four decades of experience and a longstanding reputation for providing personalized representation to the wrongfully injured in Geneva, Sycamore, and beyond. Our Illinois attorneys can carefully evaluate your claim and investigate the accident to build you the strongest case possible and maximize available damages to pursue justice.

If you were harmed in a self-driving car accident, call (800) 653-0198 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney.