How Do You Determine Liability In Self-Driving Car Accidents?

Self-driving vehicles are becoming more popular in cities throughout the United States. Some states, like Arizona, have numerous self-driving vehicle being tested and operated within the state. However, when an accident occurs involving a self-driving vehicle, who do you sue for damages? The first step is to contact an experienced Phoenix car accidents lawyer. The injury cases involving self-driving vehicles are complex and can involve multiple parties and areas of law.

Self-Driving Vehicles are Not All The Same

Several factors must be determined before you can begin to establish liability for a self-driving car accident. One factor is the autonomy level of the vehicle involved in the crash. There are six levels of autonomy for a self-driving vehicle:

  • Level 0 – A driver is in complete control of the vehicle.
  • Level 1 – A vehicle can control some aspects of steering or speed, but the driver is responsible for monitoring the road and traffic conditions, such as adaptive cruise control.
  • Level 2 – The vehicle is capable of partial automation, but the driver must still respond to traffic signals, change lanes, and other tactical maneuvers.
  • Level 3 – Conditional automation means that the vehicle can control some aspects of driving in some circumstances and prompt the driver if necessary.
  • Level 4 – High automation allows the vehicle to be completely autonomous without driver input, but only under certain circumstances that do not include all streets or driving conditions.
  • Level 5 – Full automation is a driverless vehicle on any road and in any condition.

However, the autonomy level of the vehicle is just one factor in determining liability in a self-driving vehicle accident.

Proving Liability in a Self-Driving Car Accident

Because Arizona is a fault state for personal injury claims, you must prove that another person or party caused the accident that resulted in your injury. Therefore, determining the level of autonomy of the vehicle is important because it can help determine who may be liable for causing the crash. However, as with any car accident, the crucial step is determining how the car accident occurred. The fact that it involved a self-driving vehicle will be a factor; however, it only becomes a factor if the vehicle was responsible for causing the crash.

For instance, a Waymo self-driving vehicle was involved in a crash in Chandler, Arizona in May of this year. In that case, investigators determined that the self-driving vehicle did not cause the crash, it was hit by another vehicle. Therefore, the driver of the Honda was probably held liable for the accident. However, the Uber that struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe in March of this year may have been responsible for the collision. Uber quickly settled with the family. The quick settlement prevented any substantive legal questions from being litigated in court.

Therefore, proving liability in self-driving car accident cases will always begin by investigating the cause of the crash. The additional step of determining the autonomy of the vehicle may play a factor to determine if the driver should have been paying more attention and was thereby negligent or if the vehicle was in control and someone responsible for the crash. In one of these claims, you could have multiple defendants, including the driver, the software company, the car’s manufacturer, the manufacturer of the car’s components, and/or a fleet owner.

A Phoenix personal injury lawyer may need to utilize advanced techniques and resources, including technical forensic investigators, to prove liability.

Contact a Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer for More Information

If you are injured in a car accident, your first step is to seek medical attention. Your next step should be to contact our Phoenix personal injury lawyer. Regardless of the vehicle involved, a thorough and comprehensive accident investigation is required to determine the cause of the crash to identify the liable parties.