Nowadays, many car companies are developing autonomous vehicles that have self-driving capabilities and rarely need human assistance to operate on the road. As they are being developed and integrated onto the road, this is uncharted territory for insurance companies. Many motorists wonder who may be liable for an accident involving a self-driving vehicle. Keep reading to learn who may be liable for this type of auto accident and how a seasoned Westchester County Car Accident Lawyer can help you.
What is a self-driving car?
A self-driving car is a vehicle that operates without human involvement. Autonomous vehicles use advanced software and technology to sense their environment. It computes a given destination and travels without a motorist doing anything. Motorists can let the vehicle do all the work or regain control of the vehicle if they like. Many car companies are developing autonomous vehicles with self-driving capabilities. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, different degrees of automation classify different autonomous vehicles. The following are the different levels of self-driving capabilities vehicles may be equipped with:
- Level 0: The vehicle has no automation. The driver controls the vehicle. Human involvement is required.
- Level 1: The motorist has minimal automation assistance.
- Level 2: The vehicle has partial automatic features such as cruise control. However, the motorist is in control of the vehicle.
- Level 3: The vehicle can operate without a motorist’s control, but the motorist is still necessary to regain control of the vehicle.
- Level 4: The vehicle can operate without a motorist’s control under certain conditions. However, the motorist can take control of the vehicle if they want to.
- Level 5: The vehicle is fully automated and does not require a motorist to operate the vehicle.
Who could be liable for an autonomous vehicle accident?
As with any type of auto accident, it can be quite challenging to determine who is responsible for the collision as many factors come into play. However, for the most part, many auto accidents are caused by driver error and negligence even when the driver is technically not in control of a vehicle. The following parties may be liable for an accident involving a self-driving car:
- The autonomous vehicle operator. Although self-driving cars are equipped to travel on the road without human assistance, motorists must remain alert while behind the wheel. Motorists are required to stay engaged while on the road to ensure they have sufficient time to regain control. Motorists may believe they can read, sleep, or watch their favorite show while their vehicle does all the work. However, that is not the case. They must be prepared to take control of the vehicle if necessary to prevent accidents and injuries.
- The manufacturer of the vehicle: If there is a defect or a manufacturing issue that causes an accident to occur, the manufacturer is therefore liable. When there malfunctioning parts and the motorist couldn’t have done anything to prevent the accident, the manufacturer can be held responsible for a crash.
- The technology designer. Self-driving vehicles rely on advanced software and technology to operate. Scanners and sensors detect the vehicle’s environment to avoid hazards and detect where it is traveling. If there is an issue with its technology, the software designer may be liable for the accident.
For more information on who may be at fault for an accident involving a self-driving car, contact an adept Westchester County car accident lawyer.