Car accident claims are already complex, but when a self-driving or autonomous vehicle is involved, the level of complication rises significantly. Who is responsible for damages after a crash with a driverless car is an ongoing legal debate and the subject of many lawsuits.
What is Considered a Self-Driving Car?
A vehicle that is equipped with advanced technology and software systems so that it requires little to no effort by a human driver to operate. These vehicles have various levels of automation, from level one that requires driver assistance to level five, which is full automation.
Potentially Liable Parties
Concrete liability laws do not exist yet, but various factors unique to each collision will determine who is liable for a self-driving car accident. However, self-driving technology has not been perfected to where the car does not require some human assistance. In March 2018, a self-driving Uber car struck and killed an Arizona pedestrian, making it evident that autonomous vehicles could not sense, react to, and avoid unexpected danger. What this means is the human in a self-driving car involved in an accident, whether they are driving or remotely operating the vehicle, can be held liable if they cause an accident. If the driver or remote operator is an employee and working at the time of the accident, their employer could be vicariously liable for damages.
Self-driving vehicle manufacturers are likely to blame a human driver in the event of an accident. On many autonomous vehicles, the software alerts the driver when they must take over the wheel. If the driver failed to take over when warned to do so, they can be held responsible.
There can be instances of a technological failure or the software failing to alert the driver quickly enough to avoid danger, making the manufacturer liable.
In some cases, multiple parties will be liable, but it will depend on which parties were considered negligent and caused the accident.
Texas’ Negligence Law
Texas operates under the rule of modified comparative negligence. This law applies to self-driving accident cases and allows multiple parties to be responsible for damages resulting from a collision. However, each party’s percentage of fault will directly impact their recovery, and they must be 50% or less at fault to receive compensation. This is known as the 51% bar rule, which bars a claimant from recovering compensation if they are 51% or more to blame for an accident.
Example: If you are awarded $100,000 and found 25% responsible because you were not wearing your seatbelt, you will receive 75% of your award or $75,000. On the other hand, if the jury determines you are 51% percent responsible, you will not receive compensation.
Contact Milano Legal Group
The manufacturers of self-driving vehicles or employers of those operating them will have teams of attorneys to help them devalue or invalidate your claim. When your health and financial future are on the line, you need an experienced Houston Car Accident Lawyer to help you hold the liable parties accountable. Contact us online or call (713) 489-4270 today for your free consultation.