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In today’s society, many car companies are developing autonomous vehicles to reduce auto accidents caused by driver error. When an auto accident occurs, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault. However, when an accident involves a self-driving car it can be even more challenging to determine who is responsible for the collision as several parties may be liable. For insurance companies, autonomous vehicles are uncharted water as they have only recently been integrated onto the roads. Please follow along to learn who may be responsible for an accident involving a self-driving car and how an experienced New York City Car Accident Attorney can help you. 

What is a self-driving car?

Self-driving cars use advanced software to sense their environment and operate without human involvement. Many car companies are using a combination of technology to develop autonomous vehicles. Essentially, motorists can operate the vehicle or they can allow it to do all the work. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, different levels of automation classify autonomous vehicles’ self-driving capabilities. The following are different levels used to classify the automation degree:

  • Level 0: There is no automation. The vehicle needs human involvement to operate.
  • Level 1: The vehicle needs minimal motorist assistance. They usually are only required for using certain features such as powering the brakes.
  • Level 2: The vehicle has partial automation such as cruise control, however, the motorist is still in control of the vehicle.
  • Level 3: The vehicle is equipped to operate without human control. However, while behind the wheel, the motorist must be engaged and alert in case they need to take control at any point.
  • Level 4: The vehicle can operate without the driver, however, the motorist can regain control if needed.
  • Level 5: The vehicle is fully automated and operates without human involvement.

Who is liable for an autonomous vehicle accident?

Several parties could be liable for an accident involving a self-driving car. The following are some parties liable for this type of auto accident:

  • The motorist. Most commonly, the human operator of an autonomous vehicle is liable for a collision if their negligent actions caused the crash. For instance, if they were engaged in unsafe driving behavior such as reading or sleeping, they can be held liable. This is because regardless of the vehicle having self-driving capabilities motorists are still required to be alert and prepared in the event they have to regain control of the vehicle.
  • The manufacturer. If there is a mechanical issue or defect that caused the collision and there was nothing the motorist could have done otherwise to prevent it, the manufacturer can be held responsible.
  • The software designer. Autonomous vehicles rely heavily on technology to operate without human involvement. If there is an issue with the software design, the technology designer can be held responsible for a collision. For instance, if the sensors are not functioning properly and cannot detect their environment properly they will not be able to detect oncoming hazards.

For more information, contact a qualified New York City car accident attorney. If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Our firm is committed to helping our clients seek reasonable compensation for their damages.


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