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The world is slowly transitioning towards complete automation and having self-driving cars is one of those steps to achieving that. Although self-driving vehicles initially had a bad reputation, they slowly started to gain traction for the safety and security they offered to the car owner.
However, incidents of crashing self-driving vehicles started to surface, with many questioning who is liable for self-driving car accidents.
Contact Ehline Law and our experienced car accident attorneys today for legal representation if you’re in a self-driving car accident.
The first-ever pedestrian fatality that came from a self-driving vehicle was an accident involving a 49-year-old woman, Elaine Herzberg. The pedestrian was crossing Mill Avenue in Pheonix with her shopping bags when she got struck by a self-driving Uber car by a human safety driver, Ms. Rafael. Although the safety driver turned the steering wheel and pushed on the brakes to avoid the collision, it was too late for Elaine, who got hit and died immediately.
This was the first pedestrian accident by a self-driving vehicle, which resulted in a ban on testing autonomous vehicles in Arizona ever since. The family of the deceased filed a liability lawsuit.
However, Uber made a confidential settlement with the family to avoid legal issues. Ms. Rafael got charged with negligent homicide; however, her trial has gotten delayed due to the complexities of the case.
Typically, driver negligence is almost always the cause of car accidents. Distracted driving and drunk driving are the leading cause of car accidents in the United States and come under negligence since the driver of the vehicle owes the duty of care.
A vehicle’s driver is responsible for exerting enough caution while on the road to avoid incidents involving pedestrians, cyclists, cars, or objects.
When it comes to fully autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles, it can be challenging to determine who is at fault, considering the vehicle is doing all the driving. There must be a duty of care to prove negligence and have a liability case.
Generally, the liability for accidents by an autonomous vehicle lies with the manufacturers. However, this creates a lot of complexities since GM (vehicle manufacturer) makes vehicles, but Google simply provides the autonomous technology. Many legal scholars argue that there is a shift from vehicular negligence toward product liability. Still, in the case of Uber, there is neither vehicular negligence, since Ms. Rafael was driving and not driving at the same time, nor product liability, as there was no sale of the autonomous product.
In a different interpretation, there can be a case for vehicular negligence if the safety driver was negligent, which could hold Uber responsible. However, there is a lot of ambiguity on this as well, and there is no clear consensus on the matter until a legal precedent is set.
More than 200 companies and startups are focusing on automotive technology, which shows a trend toward an automotive revolution; however, such feats do come with challenges of their own.
There are three different types of dangers that can occur if the self-driving car malfunctions, and these are as follows:
Many people know Tesla for its rapid advancements in the EV and autonomous market; however, Tesla has made it on the news multiple times for deaths, property damage, and more. In 2018, a passenger in a self-driving Tesla ended up dead after the vehicle crashed while the passenger was playing video games.
The National Transportation Safety Board argued that Tesla needs to ramp up its basic safety features and improve its self-autonomous capabilities. This was one of many Tesla autonomous car accidents that brought much scrutiny on the US automaker.
Since the incident, Tesla has further improved its safety features and alerts to reduce the risks of autonomous vehicle collisions. However, we might be challenged to place legal responsibility upon independent car makers or technology leaders.
If you got hurt due to an autonomous vehicle, contact us at (213) 596-9642 and get a free consultation with our expert car accident lawyer today!
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in U.S. History. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves in being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride, and a a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.
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