It may seem like a concern for the far future, but driverless cars aren’t just science fiction anymore. They are merging onto California freeways and boulevards every day. More and more drivers are testing out autonomous vehicles and hitting the auto-pilot button on their cars, SUVs, and trucks.
No matter who’s driving, traffic hazards on California roads will never go away and collisions will always be a major risk. Only now, it may be a California driver to blame or, potentially, the company that designed a self-driving computer program.
Who Is to Blame in a California Self-Driving Car Accident?
As crazy as it sounds, traffic accident victims now need to figure out who was driving the car that hit them. A computer or a human? They must also consider who should help out with car repairs and injury recovery costs. The car’s owner or the driverless car manufacturer?
These questions are coming up in more and more California accidents and it’s important to protect yourself and your loved ones if you become a victim of a crash involving a driverless car.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a California Driverless Car Accident Attorney
After a traffic accident involving an autonomous car, don’t rely on car insurance companies to decide who is to blame. You also shouldn’t let insurance providers decide who should pay for hospital bills and car repairs. You may let the true at-fault party off the hook and lose out on valuable compensation you’ll need to recover.
After a driverless car accident causes harm to you or a loved one, you’ll want to speak with Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law, as soon as possible.
Mr. Gasparian offers a free case consultation to all California collision victims. He wants driverless car accident victims and their families to know about every benefit available to them. This case evaluation comes with no obligation and it’s a no-risk way to quickly find out who should be held responsible for your damages.
Driverless Car Accident Dangers on California Highways
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that cars with auto-pilot and fully self-driving cars were involved in almost 400 crashes between July 2021 and May 2022. Those accidents resulted in a tragic five fatalities and at least six serious injuries. Some of these accidents also involved defenseless pedestrians.
Many cars now feature driver-assist technology including Teslas, some Hondas and Toyotas, and even some Ford pickup trucks. These cars are not full self-driving cars, although some have the hardware in place to become autonomous when that becomes legal.
Driver-assist or “auto-pilot” features still legally require a driver to remain in the driver’s seat and paying attention to the road. Cars with driver-assist on can steer, brake, and accelerate on their own, but drivers must still be ready to take control. These systems work like a more advanced cruise control at this stage of development.
California Self-Driving Car Regulations
Actual self-driving cars that don’t require someone at the wheel aren’t legal in California or anywhere else in the U.S. They are currently being tested on California roads with flesh & blood drivers at the wheel. And yet, even under testing conditions, California pedestrians and other motorists have been injured and killed by self-driving cars.
California Vehicle Code 38750 covers many state laws governing self-driving cars and offers more information about who should be at the wheel…
“(2) The driver shall be seated in the driver’s seat, monitoring the safe operation of the autonomous vehicle, and capable of taking over immediate manual control of the autonomous vehicle in the event of an autonomous technology failure or other emergency.”
Your Legal Rights After a California Driverless Car Accident
California doesn’t allow cars to be on our interstates and boulevards without someone in the driver’s seat. However, the laws are not clear on how much a driver in a driver-assisted vehicle must pay attention. After an accident, who is truly at fault can be up to interpretation.
It’s a confusing process, but a California Car Accident Lawyer makes sure that you receive justice after being victimized by a crash involving an SUV with driver-assist engaged. A skilled lawyer would investigate your accident fully and determine who is to blame. In fact, there may be more than one party to blame for a California self-driving vehicle accident.
These are just a few of the potential parties who may be forced to write you a driverless car accident settlement check:
- The Self-Driving Car’s Driver — Cars with auto-pilot, even Teslas, don’t have driver-assist engaged at all times. If someone behind the wheel has complete control of a vehicle before an accident, and the driver-assist is off, the driver is at fault. That driver’s insurance should cover your injury costs and property damages in full. If the auto-pilot was engaged but there’s evidence the driver was playing on a cell phone or asleep, the driver’s car insurance could still be partially liable. Drivers are legally responsible for paying attention to the freeway and must be ready to take control back from the computer at any moment.
- The Self-Driving Car Manufacturer – When a car accident occurs while a car like a Tesla or a Toyota is engaged in self-driving mode, the car company could be fully responsible. A malfunction or error by the artificial intelligence driving the car would need to be demonstrated. It’s also possible you may be in a self-driving car when the computer makes a mistake and sends you into a crash. This error makes you eligible for accident compensation from the car manufacturer. The victims in the other vehicles involved may also have a case against the car maker.
The responsibility of car makers like Tesla and Ford to the consumer is enforced under California’s product liability laws. These laws might leave a dealership, a repair shop, and others liable after an accident. They bear responsibility for design defects, manufacturing defects, and problems with the warning system that is supposed to alert all drivers when trouble is ahead.
What to Do After a California Autonomous Car Collision
Self-driving cars could be new to you and they may also be new to police officers and California Highway Patrol officers. After an accident, it’s important to collect all the evidence you can at the scene showing proof that a car involved in your crash may have been driving itself.
If you are left physically strong enough and the scene is secure, try to collect some valuable details. If you must go to the hospital, ask someone with you or a helpful witness to collect evidence on the scene.
Gather these key elements after a California accident involving a self-driving car:
- Call 911. Give a full report to the officers who respond so they can write up a complete collision report. Make sure they know the other car is a self-driving model. Google the model of the car if you aren’t sure about its features. Allow paramedics to check out every injury and go to the emergency room if necessary.
- Take photos. Document the scene and show the damage to cars and any lane markings and traffic signs that played a role in what happened. Get photos that show the make and model of the vehicle in case there is a question about whether a car has driver-assist mode available. Take photos of any injuries that are visible and any damage to clothing.
- Talk to any witnesses and get contact information. Ask them if they saw the at-fault driver looking at a cell phone or perhaps traveling without even having their hands on the steering wheel.
- Exchange information with everyone involved if officers don’t provide it to you. Don’t make any statements about the fault in the accident or how bad your injuries are. Insurance companies can use these statements against you later.
- Get checked out by your own physician in the days that follow. Get any new pain documented. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and keep all medical receipts.
- Keep any damaged clothing and personal items. Don’t throw evidence out.
- Call a California self-driving car accident attorney as soon as possible. Take advantage of a free consultation with a qualified legal representative to go over your options. Make sure your lawyer knows a self-driving car may have been involved and allow your lawyer to start investigating immediately. Server records from the car will need to be obtained to prove that a car was or wasn’t in driver-assist mode.
Compensation Available After a California Self-Driving Car Accident
Your California car accident attorney also makes sure every hardship this driverless car accident has caused you and your family is documented. These damages must be clearly listed in your car insurance claim. The size of your settlement check depends on getting every cost you’ve faced since the accident in front of an insurance adjuster.
These are just a few of the items your lawyer will make sure end up in an injury claim:
- Totals for hospital bills now and estimates on any potential medical care expected to be needed in the months ahead.
- The estimated cost of care if a victim ends up with a permanent disability. This compensation will need to be sufficient to cover expenses for the patient and the patient’s family over a lifetime.
- Wrongful death benefits. Families who have lost a loved one in an accident involving a driver-assisted car may be eligible for support from the driver and the car manufacturer. Family members should seek full reimbursement for funeral costs and leftover medical bills. The loss of monthly income the deceased can no longer provide for the family in the future should also factor into a self-driving vehicle accident settlement.
- Pain and suffering. This includes the physical pain victims must endure. It also factors in the emotional trauma victims and their families are put through. Victims may experience anxiety and depression and an overall loss of enjoyment of life due to a serious injury.
- Past and future lost wages and benefits while injured victims are unable to manage work duties.
- The cost of car repairs or car replacement.
Contact a California Self-Driving Car Accident Attorney
Accidents involving self-driving cars in California are a relatively new phenomenon. It’s easy for victims and their families to be ignored and brushed aside when they are in need of immediate and substantial compensation for their injuries and their suffering.
Self-driving car manufacturers can afford teams of lawyers to protect their image and their profits. You’ll need a California Car Accident Attorney who won’t back down from these corporate giants. Your wellbeing and your family’s financial futures are too important.
Contact Maison Law of California for a free, no-obligation consultation after a serious car accident involving an autonomous car or a drive-assist vehicle. It’s a no-obligation, no-risk way to find out what your accident injury is worth and what you should hold an insurance company to. Don’t depend on an insurance adjuster to tell you about your rights and every benefit available to you and your family.