Who Would Be at Fault in a Car Accident Involving Self-Driving Cars?

Only a few years ago, self-driving cars were simply the stuff of science fiction movies like Total Recall, but now self-driving cars are already on our roads (and even causing accidents like the March 2017 accident that led to Uber suspending its self-driving pilot program), and may well proliferate on our roads and freeways in the coming years. And, knowing California’s role as a technological trendsetter for the nation, we can expect to see many of those self-driving cars right here in our home state. Which leads to the question of who would be at fault in a personal injury claim involving a self-driving car accident.

A Non-Driving Operator of a Self-Driving Car Can Still Be at Fault

When a driver takes his hands off the wheel of a car’s operations, both literally and figuratively, that does not absolve him of liability for any accidents caused by the car. As with any personal injury claim involving a car accident in California against a party, the law will look at whether the defendant acted reasonably under the circumstances in operating the car. If the self-driving car owner failed to follow reasonable protocols in operating the self-driving functions of the car, he might be found negligent and thus liable for the physical and emotional injuries suffered by those injured in a self-driving car accident.

Self-Driving Car Manufacturers May Be at Fault as Well

In addition, the manufacturers of the self-driving car can be liable in a personal injury suit if the fault for the car accident can be traced to either a defect in the design or the manufacture of the self-driving car. If, for example, it can be shown that a self-driving manufacturer failed to include a reasonable mechanism for avoiding the very type of accident that caused a victim’s injuries, the injured victim could pursue financial recovery from the self-driving car manufacturer itself.