Losing Our Grip on Technology: Who Can You Sue If You’re Hit by a Self-Driving Vehicle?


Not all that long ago, autonomous vehicles were merely figments of overactive imaginations. Futuristic cartoons and cutting-edge science fiction shows may have taken the concept a bit further, but they were still far from actual existence. Though the Transformers and Knight Rider’s KITT never made their way to the production lines, models with fewer advancements and far less personality are now burning rubber across the globe.

How Far Does the Self-Driving Car Craze Go?

While many people may not realize it, a few hundred automated vehicles are already cruising America’s roadways, transporting passengers and making deliveries. They’re not exactly unobtrusive, either. Although they resemble other models on the road, they certainly carry some extra gear to make their travels possible.

Ireland-based automotive company, Aptiv has 30 self-driving models deployed across Las Vegas alone with Aurora, Drive.ai, Ford and General Motors being only a few of the other names now involved in the autonomous side of the automotive world. According to a report from CNBC, recently passed legislature has paved the way for up to 100,000 additional self-driving vehicles to hit the road within the next few years.

When Technology Goes Awry

Determining just how safe these vehicles are, or unsafe as the case may be, isn’t a simple feat since the technology is still in its embryonic stages. Based on an early comparison published by USA Today, the accident rate of autonomous vehicles was five times that of traditional vehicles as of 2015. This same writeup noted the injury rate in those accidents quadrupled that of conventional models. Just last year, an Arizona pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle.

Who Is at Fault in An Autonomous Vehicle Accident?

Though a number of cities have passed laws allowing automated vehicles and test models to cruise their streets, legislators haven’t been able to keep pace in terms of safety and responsibility regulations. Some states have developed their own laws in this regard, but no uniform set of rules currently exists. At present, three primary culprits could potentially be held liable.

  • Human Facilitators: At present, most self-driving vehicles still require a human being at the helm in case the need for intervention arises. In accidents where this facilitator fails to perform such duties, he or she may be held responsible.
  • Operating Companies: Some autonomous vehicles are being operated remotely rather than having an onboard human assistant. When accidents occur due to remote operator negligence, these individuals or their employers can be deemed at fault.
  • Manufacturers: In some cases, self-driving vehicles’ manufacturers could be held accountable. Accidents arising from automated systems’ glitches or sub-par programming may very well fall back on the people responsible for their creation.

As is the case with any type of accident, numerous factors enter the equation when determining who is at fault. Truly deciding who is responsible and to what extent largely depends on information recovered from automated vehicles’ data recorders and dash cams as well as testimonies from eyewitnesses. Find out from Sibley Dolman which regulations have been put into play in Florida so far and how they might apply to your case.

Generally Speaking

With no clear-cut laws applying to automated vehicles at this point, determining who is at fault in an accident can be a bit precarious. People behind the scenes, whether they’re operating a self-driving vehicle via remote, sitting idly behind the wheel or involved in the testing and developmental elements, are the most common culprits. As technology advances to the point where human assistance isn’t required, manufacturers may take the full brunt of the blame.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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