As long as humans have driven motor vehicles, establishing fault for accidents has involved a fairly straightforward process. While manufacturer defects, dangerous road conditions, and other hazards sometimes complicate liability, one driver or another typically causes an accident.
The introduction of “self-driving” vehicles has made it more difficult to determine fault for an accident. If the driver of a self-driving vehicle injured you, you may hire a self driving car accident attorney in california to establish liability and seek compensation.
Steps to Take as Soon as Possible After an Accident With a Self-Driving Vehicle
No matter what type of motor vehicle accident you’re in:
- Get medical attention as soon as possible: Self-driving car accident victims must consider their health first. Even if you do not believe you suffered an injury after an accident, X-rays, CT scans, and evaluations may prove otherwise. Furthermore, if you have injuries, you need records to establish your injuries resulted from the accident.
- Speak with an attorney: There is no single blueprint to follow after a self-driving car accident. An attorney will consider the facts of your accident and advise you on how to proceed. Even better, a lawyer may take over your case, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
You may already have information that will help your lawyer.
Protect, document and organize any useful items or information, which may include:
- Your recollection of how the accident happened
- Any statements another driver made to you, including any indication of whether the vehicle was driving itself at the time of the collision
- Any witness accounts of the accident
- A copy of the police report from your accident
- Photographs of your injuries
- Medical records and images
If you cannot remember certain details or don’t have certain types of documentation, do not worry. An attorney will quickly gather relevant evidence and seek complete information about your accident.
Self-Driving Cars Introduced Safety Concerns and Legal Challenges
As companies like Tesla, Rivian, and more established automakers build supposedly self-driving vehicles, motorists increasingly share the roads with them. In some cases, motorists only realize the potential danger that self-driving vehicles pose after an accident with one.
Claiming compensation may be more complicated if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a self-driving vehicle accident. One primary question to answer is whether the self-driving technology failed, whether human failures resulted in your accident, or whether some other hazard caused the collision.
Our team will answer this question for you.
Self-Driving Technology Remains Imperfect
Though human drivers still make fatal errors daily, experts note that self-driving vehicle technology remains imperfect, too.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) explains that self-driving vehicle technology:
- Self-driving technology cannot replicate the human aspects of safe driving: Though “crude” is not the right word for automated vehicle technology, humans remain far more nuanced and dynamic than self-driving vehicle technologies. For example, a reasonable human should never brake suddenly on a highway unless to avoid a serious collision.
- Self-driving vehicles require extensive testing but are often in high demand: This creates a quandary. While self-driving vehicle manufacturers like Tesla often see high demand, companies should never rush the safety-testing process. If a manufacturer overlooks or rushes any aspect of the testing process, it may produce a defective, highly dangerous vehicle.
- Even advanced automakers don’t understand how to automate driving: While lawmakers have some protections in place to prevent unsafe self-driving vehicle technology from entering the marketplace, it is inevitable that unsafe technologies enter the marketplace. There is no such thing as perfect technology, and self-driving vehicle manufacturers must be liable when their products cause accidents.
When representing a victim of a self-driving vehicle accident, a lawyer needs to explain how the technology failed. This requires a reasonable knowledge of self-driving vehicles and the technologies that power them.
An experienced attorney can handle self-driving vehicle accident cases. Where an attorney does not have complete knowledge of the technology involved, they can hire experts who do.
Between Human Drivers and Complicated Computer Systems, Much Can Go Wrong With a Self-Driving Vehicle
Self-driving vehicles rely on an array of complicated systems and technologies. Front-crash prevention and automatic braking systems are just two of the many automated features in self-driving vehicles. If any of these systems fail, a crash may result.
Humans still have a high degree of responsibility in self-driving vehicles. They must respond appropriately to any prompts the self-driving vehicle issues, remain alert, and override improper alerts or actions by the computer.
When a human controls a self-driving vehicle, they may increase the risk of an accident by:
- Driving drunk
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Failing to heed traffic signals
- Changing lanes dangerously
Even if motorists are not controlling a self-driving vehicle during a collision, they must be sober, alert, and responsive to their surroundings.
Determining Liability for a Self-Driving Car Accident
A car accident attorney will diagnose liability for your self-driving car accident.
They may determine liability for the accident by:
- Reviewing the at-fault driver’s statements about the accident, as they may have indicated whether they were driving or relying on self-driving technology
- Hiring an expert to investigate whether the vehicle was in self-driving mode at the time of the accident
- Filing any necessary legal documents to preserve evidence from the self-driving vehicle
- Reviewing all footage, witness accounts, and other evidence that may help in determining liability
The question of liability may dictate who covers your accident-related damages.
Legal Questions to Consider After a Self-Driving Car Accident
As your lawyer investigates your self-driving vehicle accident, they can find the answers to several questions, including:
- What self-driving or driver assistance features does this vehicle have?
- What features were engaged at the time of the collision?
- What are the relevant laws on self-driving technologies, and how must a human act in a self-driving vehicle?
- Are there documented defects with the vehicle or specific self-driving systems involved in the collision?
- Was the driver, self-driving technology, or something else responsible for the accident?
They will use evidence, expert opinions, and witness accounts to answer these critical questions.
Who Can I Hold Financially Responsible for My Self-Driving Car Accident?
Once your car accident attorney determines the cause of your accident, they can determine financial liability for your damages.
Potentially liable parties in a self-driving accident case include:
- The manufacturer of the self-driving vehicle: If your attorney determines that a defect in the self-driving vehicle caused your accident, they’ll seek compensation from the liable manufacturer.
- The motorist driving the self-driving vehicle: If the motorist acted in any way that contributed to your accident, they might be financially liable for your damages.
- The municipality where your accident happened: Municipalities are generally responsible for road conditions. This includes the state of roadways, traffic signals, signage, work crews, construction barriers, and other factors that can result in accidents.
- Another party: If anyone else has legal responsibility for your damages, your lawyer will seek compensation from them.
Our attorneys have gotten compensation for victims of self-driving vehicle accidents. No matter how complicated the cause of your accident proves to be, we’ll determine who owes you money for your damages.
The Right Car Accident Attorney Understands the Complex Legal Issues Around Self-Driving Vehicles
Certain car accident attorneys have learned how to get justice for victims of self-driving vehicle crashes. Not every law firm is comfortable confronting the legal issues that self-driving accidents present, so you need to find the right one to handle your case.
The right attorney can help accident victims like you by:
You need a lawyer who knows how to establish liability for your damages. Your lawyer will start the investigation of your accident immediately. After gathering all relevant evidence and information, they should know who owes you compensation.
Getting All Evidence That Helps Your Case
A car accident attorney will collect all evidence relevant to your claim or lawsuit. This evidence can be highly technical when a crash involves a self-driving car.
For instance, you must differentiate between technology that assists the driver, and technology that takes action, like braking when it detects an impending accident. Your lawyer should specifically seek any evidence that shows whether the driver or the self-driving technology caused your accident.
Documenting Your Damages
A car accident law firm will show the full extent of your damages using:
- Medical records, including any diagnoses of injuries
- Medical bills
- Photographs and medical images of your injuries
- Photographs of damage to your vehicle
- Invoices for vehicle repairs
- Employment records that reflect missed work and lost income
- Professionals’ diagnoses of psychological and emotional injuries
- Invoices for medications, treatment, and all other accident-related expenses
Documentation is a key building block for your case. Your lawyer should take every necessary step to document your damages in fine detail.
Calculating the Cost of Your Damages
Your attorney will calculate the precise cost of your damages. This is an important benefit of hiring a car accident law firm; they know how to calculate economic and non-economic damages. This process can be challenging for accident victims.
The calculation of your damages must be accurate. This calculation will be the basis for the settlement your attorney seeks for you. Your attorney should have several systems to ensure the accuracy of car accident settlement calculations.
Directing Settlement Negotiations
Our team will represent you during settlement negotiations. Many cases end with a settlement out of court. If a motorist, vehicle manufacturer, or another liable party agrees to pay what you deserve, your case may conclude in a settlement with no further legal action necessary.
Completing Any Necessary Trial
Some self-driving vehicle accident cases will require a trial. This may be the case because liable parties won’t offer a fair settlement or for other reasons.
The possibility of a trial provides one of many clear reasons to hire an attorney after a car accident.
Should I Hire a Lawyer as the Victim of a Self-Driving Vehicle Accident?
You should certainly consult with a car accident attorney.
A few of the common reasons for hiring a lawyer are:
- Health issues: Motor vehicle accidents frequently result in serious injuries. When someone suffers an injury, they may not work or even care for themselves—let alone handle a car accident insurance claim or lawsuit.
- Inexperience with lawsuits and insurance claims: Even if someone feels healthy enough to take on a challenge, they may not know how to pursue their own case. Instead, they should rely on experienced, trained professionals (a lawyer) to lead their cases.
- Mental health struggles: Besides physical injuries, someone in a car accident may have emotional and psychological injuries. Emotional and psychological issues can make it difficult to shoulder the stress of a lawsuit or claim.
- Lack of time: You may simply not have time to spend on your case. If you did choose to lead your own lawsuit or claim, it can come at the expense of other priorities—including your recovery.
Damages a Self-Driving Car Accident Victim May Get Compensation For
Motor vehicle accidents can cause non-fatal injuries, which may lead to:
- Medical expenses
- Time away from work, which may cause lost income, lost earning power, and other professional damages
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological treatment
You may also need money to repair your vehicle, pay for transportation, and cover other accident-related expenses.
Some self-driving car accidents are fatal.
If you lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, you may deserve compensation for:
- Funeral expenses
- Lost financial support
- The decedent’s pain and suffering
- Your own pain and suffering
- Any other damages caused by your loved one’s passing
Hire an Attorney Today and Let Them Seek Compensation for Your Damages
Don’t wait to find a personal injury law firm in san mateo that you trust. Your lawyer may face a deadline for filing your case. Research and speak with local attorneys today, so you can remain focused on your physical recovery and treatment.
Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP - SAN Mateo OFFICE
Thank you so much for all of your legal help on my case. I’ve really enjoyed working with you and your professional team including Lisa and Mavis. I also appreciate your efforts in reaching a settlement on my behalf. I will definitely refer my clients and friends to your firm they are in need of legal representation in the future. Regards.- ADRIAN C.