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How is liability determined in a crash involving a self-driving car? In Texas, negligent drivers are responsible for covering the cost of the damages they cause. Recently, the presence of self-driving cars has put personal injury laws to the test, requiring new legislation along with a reinterpretation of many existing laws. If you have a case involving a self-driving vehicle, an attorney in Navasota, TX or Rockville, TX can help you file a personal injury lawsuit.

How Do Self-Driving Cars Work?

Self-driving cars are at the forefront of artificial intelligence, demanding both complex programming and a great degree of faith in the technology. When a human being drives a car, he or she relies on many intricate cognitive processes to get from Point A to Point B safely. Avoiding obstacles and adhering to the rules of the road can often mean making an important judgment call in a fraction of a second.

Self-driving cars rely on numerous exterior sensors to detect their environment. Those sensors send messages to a central computer system that operates the vehicle according to predictive modeling and a set of hard rules that are pre-programmed within the vehicle. All aspects of driving are functions of this system, including braking, accelerating, turning, and signaling.

Levels of Automation

Completely autonomous cars are still a novelty, despite the fact that companies like Google and Tesla are intent on pushing the technology forward. While the percentage of fully autonomous cars on the road is still small, most new cars on the market today have some autonomous features, indicating that car manufacturers are trending towards self-driving systems. Some of the latest autonomous features that can be found in car models today include parking assist, brake assist, and obstacle alerts.

Are Self-Driving Cars Dangerous?

The presence of self-driving cars on the road is controversial. Texas is more accepting of autonomous vehicles than other states, but many individuals and consumer advocates argue that the new technology is not yet road-worthy. Numerous accidents involving self-driving cars have already been reported, including some crashes that resulted in fatalities.

Self-driving cars crash for a variety of reasons. They rely on both complex software and advanced exterior equipment, providing ample opportunities for one or more of the various components to malfunction. Additionally, the road is a constantly changing environment where unexpected situations can arise. Even with advanced predictive modeling, the technology behind self-driving cars is not yet equipped to handle every possible contingency.

Who Is at Fault When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

Determining liability in a crash involving a self-driving car requires an investigation into the events leading up to the accident, the condition of all of the car’s components prior to the crash, and the role of the car’s owner. Often, multiple defendants can be held accountable. If there are multiple defendants in your case, you will have a greater chance of being fully compensated for your losses.

The attorney who represents the claimant should draw on his or her professional experience and resources to ensure that the investigation is thorough. Often, a forensic accident reconstruction expert is called in to provide a testimony. In general, there are three possible defendants in a case involving a self-driving car:

The Car’s Manufacturer

Manufacturers such as Tesla are responsible for producing vehicles that adhere to basic safety standards. The cars must be designed in a way that accommodates all driving conditions, and they must be sold without any parts that have the potential to malfunction.

When a self-driving car crashes, the accident is often the result of a design error or a problem that occurred as the components of the car were being made. For example, the car could have been sold with a broken sensor due to an issue in the factory where it was produced. Alternatively, the automated braking system could have been triggered at the wrong time due to a programming issue.

The Manufacturer of a Specific Component

Car manufactures often outsource some of their vehicle’s components. The third party vendors that supply them are responsible for providing parts that are well designed and properly made. When outsourced components malfunction and cause crashes, the company that made the faulty parts can often be held liable for damages.

The Other Driver

Manufactures of today’s self-driving cars are aware that their technology is not yet perfect. Therefore, they have sought to protect themselves against lawsuits by stating that self-driving cars require human supervision at all times.

Unfortunately, many self-driving car owners let their attentiveness lapse, and some drivers of such cars purposefully don’t pay attention because they don’t think it’s right to have paid through the nose for “self-driving” tech that still requires their constant oversight. Failing to provide proper supervision while on the road can cause a court to side against the driver in an accident case involving a self-driving car.

Why You Should Work With an Attorney Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

The technology behind self-driving cars is new, and many of the laws pertaining to them have not been tested against real-life scenarios. Working with an experienced attorney who understands legal precedent will greatly increase the strength of your position. In any nuanced case, a lawyer who can make convincing arguments is an essential asset.

Whether your accident was caused by another person’s self-driving car or your own autonomous vehicle, you risk compromising your case if you choose to go up against a big car manufacturer alone. A qualified attorney can lend credibility to your arguments while remaining vigilant for any signs that the defense is trying to use your lack of legal knowledge against you.

The Cost of Your Damages

Like any car accident, a crash involving a self-driving vehicle can inflict a range of damages, from minor bumps and bruises to catastrophic injuries. Your lawyer will help you calculate the true value of your claim by identifying:

  • The cost of your medical treatment
  • The amount of paid work you lost while you were recovering
  • The amount of compensation you are entitled to receive for pain and suffering
  • The value of your other noneconomic damages

Once you have identified your damages, your lawyer will help you compile evidence to support your case. The evidence in your favor might include footage of the crash, a copy of the police report, witness statements, and medical bills. You may also need to bring in an expert witness to determine whether or not the technology behind the self-driving vehicle failed in the moments before the crash occurred.

Schedule a Consultation With a Lawyer in Navasota, TX or Rockville, TX

Going into the claim submission process with a lot of questions is normal, especially if your accident involved a self-driving vehicle. We offer free consultations, during which you can get an overview of the laws pertaining to your case and an assessment of your claim’s potential value. We look forward to meeting you and identifying how we can provide you with top legal support as you pursue compensation for your damages.

Expert Legal Representation in a New Era of Technology

We understand that, at the end of the day, an injury is an injury regardless of whether the cars involved were manual or self-driving. When you need to file a personal injury lawsuit, having expert legal advice from an attorney in Navasota, TX or Rockville, TX can go a long way toward furthering your case. To get in touch with our law offices, contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer.

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“No words describe how amazing it is to work with Brian.” J.T.

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