Can I Sue If I Was in an Accident With a Self-Driving Vehicle?

Major technological innovations have made self-driving vehicles a reality in the day-to-day lives of many people. Equipped with the latest radar and sensor computers, semi and fully- automated vehicles are thought to be the future of transportation, but a spate of high-profile fatal accidents raises safety concerns as well as issues of liability.
While automakers continue to work out technological kinks in their robo-cars, there remain serious legal implications for victims who were harmed in a crash with a self-driving vehicle.
Accidents with self-driving vehicles on the rise
In California, accidents involving self-driving vehicles almost doubled over the last year, according to DMV records. What recourse do victims have in these situations? Can you file a lawsuit seeking damages after being injured by a driverless car, and who can you sue for compensation?
The first step to protecting your rights is speaking to a personal injury attorney who has in-depth experience winning car accident cases, and knowledge of the current and past litigation surrounding auto-pilot vehicle crashes. Lawsuits have already been filed against a number of self-driving auto makers, including General Motors and Tesla. Plaintiffs argue the technology behind the vehicles has serious flaws, paving the way for dangerous and unpredictable maneuvers that put motorists, passengers and pedestrians at risk.
Earlier this year, Uber reached a confidential settlement with the relatives of Elaine Herzberg – a 49-year-old Arizona woman who was killed by an Uber self-driving car while she was crossing the road at night. While no admission of liability was made by Uber, video footage shows the safety driver looking down at their lap just seconds before the crash.
Who can you sue in self-driving vehicle crashes?
In traditional road accidents, the at-fault driver’s insurance company would be responsible for paying reparations for vehicle damage, medical bills, and other related expenses. But what about a crash where you were struck by an automated vehicle? Determining liability in such accidents is far from easy, underscoring the need for experienced legal counsel.
There is concern that proposed federal legislation, if passed, could limit automaker’s liability in the wake of self-driving vehicle accidents and injuries. It is possible that manufacturers of this new technology will put mandatory arbitration clauses that limit a victim’s ability to file a claim for damages against the company under theories of strict product liability.
Legal analysts say that deep-pocketed companies operating self-driving vehicles are more likely to settle quickly in accident-related claims when the artificial intelligence was to blame. After all, autonomous vehicles are designed to be super safe, by eliminating the risks posed by human error.
When manufacturers suggest that their automated vehicles are just as safe – if not safer—than a human driver, they may face legal repercussions on several counts, including misrepresentation and manufacturing or design defects. If the self-driving vehicle is in a fully automated mode when the accident occurs, the responsibility should fall on the manufacturer.
In semi-automated cars, there is always a human driver, who must stay alert and be prepared to switch to manual mode when needed. If it is determined that the driver’s distraction or inattention caused the accident, they could be sued in a personal injury lawsuit.
Potential defendants in self-driving car crash claims
Under current personal injury laws, potential defendants in a self-driving vehicle accident could include auto manufacturers, drivers, and the employers of an at-fault driver. Whether you live in Los Angeles, or another part of the country, there are myriad legal implications when it comes to self-driving technology.
Ellis Injury Law works diligently to ensure our clients secure the maximum compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering.  If you or someone you love needs sound guidance from one of our award-winning Los Angeles car accident attorneys in California, we encourage you to reach out for a free case evaluation.
Award-winning advocacy that gets results
We understand the complex issues of liability in self-driving car accidents and provide aggressive representation that is focused on our clients, their recovery and their futures.
Over the past 20 years, our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers have procured more than $350 million in settlements and have an impressive track record of case results. Call today to explore your legal options for suing after a self-driving vehicle accident.