Who Is Liable If A Self-driving Car Crashes

Post By Corey Heit

Self-driving cars have been making headlines across the country for a few years now, especially with the continued revelation of new safety features like LiDAR sensors that can help increase self-driving cars’ safety. With companies like Tesla, Volvo, GM, and others producing or developing self-driving cars, there is a lot of discussions, excitement, and apprehension around this newest take on vehicles.

That excitement even extends all the way back to 2016 for Ohio. In 2016, the state of Ohio invested $15 million into a project that would turn a 35-mile section of a state highway into a unique testing spot for self-driving vehicles – specifically trucks.

But with the advent of self-driving cars and trucks come a number of other concerns for the everyday driver and pedestrian. Should a self-driving car crash or cause an accident, who might be held responsible for self-driving cars’ legal issues?

Before we take a look at questions related to who is liable for self-driving cars’ legal issues, it is important to note that this is a particularly new area of law. Both at the federal and state level, we can expect to see changes over the course of the next few years in regard to self-driving cars.

And keep in mind, this is not legal advice. For specific questions related to a self-driving car crash that you have been in, contact the team at Heit Law, LLC today.

Who is Liable if a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

Compared to a typical car crash where there would be two drivers involved or one driver and a pedestrian, self-driving car crashes are a bit trickier. The self-driving vehicle is going to either be fully or partially automated – meaning that the car may not have only had a single driver or no driver involved in the crash.

Liability for an accident will typically be dispersed onto the driver who is at fault. Ohio is an at-fault state. For a victim who was hit by a car, that means that you would need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance.

But for a self-driving car crash, liability might shift to another party like the vehicle owner, vehicle manufacturer, or the technology company that was responsible for the car’s software.

An example of a case where blame was split between different parties can be seen in the case of the first pedestrian death by a self-driving car back in 2018. According to Forbes, the blame for Elaine Herberg’s death “was divided between the safety driver, Uber, the self-driving car, the victim, and the state of Arizona.”

Is Tesla Liable for Self-Driving Accidents?

Next on our list of questions: is Tesla liable for self-driving accidents? When it comes to if the manufacturers of a self-driving car can be liable for an accident, the answer is situational.

As previously mentioned, each case is going to be different based on individual factors.

Individual factors from an accident might mean that the manufacturer could hold some liability. For example, if there was a defect in the vehicle that caused the crash, the manufacturer (whether it was Tesla or another manufacturer) might be liable for the crash.

Who is at Fault if a Driverless Car Crashes?

As we have discussed above, who is at fault if a driverless car crashes will depend on each situation? The vehicle owner, vehicle manufacturer, or even the technology company behind the vehicle’s software may be found at fault.

Self-driving cars can add an extra layer to an already complex situation following an accident. You might find it especially helpful to speak with a car accident lawyer in Ohio who will be able to help guide you through the process of seeking fair damages.

Reach out to a Car Accident Lawyer Today

You can easily schedule a meeting with an expert car accident lawyer with Heit Law, LLC today. Reach out online or over the phone at 614-898-5300! We can discuss your specific case and figure out where to go from there.

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