Who Is Liable When It Comes to Auto Accidents with Automated Vehicles?

Self-driving vehicles are touted as being the solution to dangerous auto accidents. The theory goes that these vehicles reduce the risk of human error, which in turn will greatly decrease how many accidents occur. Despite these claims, many people are not yet comfortable with the concept of automated vehicles.

One major issue is liability in the event of an accident. Because this technology is new, legal precedent is still being set when drivers are involved in accidents with automated vehicles. This guide delves into a few of the basics regarding liability and automation.

Types of Self-Driving Vehicles

Self-driving vehicles are actually separated into different levels, which include:

  • Level 0 – These vehicles have some automated features, such as automated braking in emergencies, but no driver automation.
  • Level 1 – Automated features can regulate the speed or steering of the vehicle, but not at the same time. Adaptive cruise control is a type of level 1 automation.
  • Level 2 – Automated features can regulate speed and steering at the same time, but only in select conditions. For instance, the vehicle can have two automated features running at the same time when driving under a specific speed.
  • Level 3 – Level 3 vehicles can take control of driving and monitor surrounding conditions but require the assistance of a human driver in situations where the vehicle can’t operate on its own.
  • Level 4 – These vehicles are fully capable of operating on their own. In case a hazardous situation is detected, the vehicle stops on its own instead of requiring help from a human driver.
  • Level 5 – Level 5 vehicles are considered fully automated and equipped to drive in all situations, regardless of surrounding conditions.

How Liability Issues Are Being Addressed

In traditional auto accidents, the negligent driver is considered the cause of what occurred. As a result, the injured driver will pursue that person to recoup medical costs and lost wages. When a person is riding in an automated vehicle, the situation becomes murkier from a legal perspective.

If the person in the self-driving vehicle is negligent in some way, such as by not taking over the controls when prompted by the car, the driver will likely still be to blame. However, if the accident results from a mechanical issue, such as the vehicle not being able to recognize an object in its path using its internal sensors, then the problem could potentially be considered a manufacturing defect. In this case, the injured party may need to pursue the manufacturer of the vehicle, as opposed to the driver.

When you have questions about a car accident in Albuquerque, Hinkle Law Offices is here to provide answers. When it comes to auto collisions, we’ll meticulously review your case to ensure the best possible guidance. We also have experience with other types of personal injury cases to help you pursue the settlement you deserve.

Schedule a consultation by calling 505-883-4357. You can also contact our firm today to learn more about our legal services before getting started.