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An Increase in Self-Driving Vehicles in the Bay Area Inevitably Means an Increase in Accidents Involving Self-Driving Vehicles

Modern technology has delivered many things that probably seemed like science fiction 30 years ago. Most of us, for example, have a seemingly infinite font of information right in the palm of our hand with our smartphones. And some of us may find ourselves riding in a vehicle operated by… itself. Of course, for all their benefits, self-driving vehicles come with their own set of challenges, including crashes where the self-driving vehicle was at fault. Whether you were hurt because of errors made by a self-driving vehicle or a human driver, be sure that you protect yourself by putting an experienced San Mateo auto accident lawyer on your side.

A headline on the website for San Francisco’s PBS station announced it unequivocally: “You’re Not Imagining It: There Are More Driverless Cars in SF Now.” According to KQED, California had 900 driverless vehicles registered with the DMV in November 2020. A year later, that number was up more than 150%, at 1,400+. Nuro has launched a fleet of self-driving delivery vehicles in Mountain View. Bloomberg has reported that Apple is working on a fully self-driving vehicle.

While these driverless vehicles are piloted using intricate algorithms and cutting-edge technology, they aren’t foolproof. Just a week ago, CTV News reported on a person who ended up in critical condition in the hospital after a self-driving shuttle bus slammed into a tree. Around the same time, a self-driving Waymo Jaguar crashed into a pedestrian in San Francisco. Waymo later asserted that a human was controlling the vehicle at the time of the accident, according to Tech Crunch.

Some issues of law and liability in cases involving self-driving vehicles will be unique, but other things are universal. One of those universal facts is that, if you are hit and injured in an accident, you need a skilled legal team to do the thorough and in-depth investigation necessary to identify everyone liable to you. This is extremely important because, the more culpable parties you can identify, the better your chances of reaping a full recovery.

For example, to win an injury lawsuit, you have to identify what was to blame. This can be particularly complex if the accident involved a self-driving vehicle. First, was the self-driving vehicle the one that violated the rules of the road, or was the driver of a non-autonomous vehicle the one who committed the errors that precipitated the crash?

Even if you’ve identified the self-driving vehicle as the one that erred, your work is still far from done. If the vehicle is only partially autonomous, you’ll need to obtain the evidence necessary to determine who was driving at the time of the crash… the human or the vehicle.

Determining Liability for a Crash Caused by a Fully Autonomous Vehicle

If you’ve done all that and you’ve unearthed proof indicating that the driverless vehicle alone was responsible for the crash, you still have many steps ahead in your pre-litigation process. A driverless vehicle can fail and cause a wreck for a lot of different reasons. An error in the vehicle’s computer algorithm may have caused the vehicle to make an error like failing to stop or turning improperly. If that’s the case, then you may have a negligence case against the software entity that created the algorithm upon which the vehicle relied, along with anyone responsible for testing and verifying the algorithm’s functionality.

Alternately, the algorithm and the vehicle’s computer may have functioned completely properly but the vehicle may have erred due to a mechanical malfunction. If that is the case, then there are a variety of new avenues down which your case may lead. You may have a case against the manufacturer of the part that malfunctioned, against the vehicle manufacturer, the entity that owned the vehicle, and possibly any entities responsible for the vehicle’s maintenance.

In other words, there are a lot of variables and permutations in terms of liability. The right legal team can help you get the evidence you need to “get to the bottom of” your accident and then get you everything you deserve in a legal action. Count on the hardworking and experienced San Mateo auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos to be that effective advocate for you. To set up a free consultation with one of our helpful attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website and get started putting the power of this office to work for you.

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    I retained Ilya Frangos of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos on a business litigation matter involving a frivolous lawsuit filed in federal court. Ilya guided me through the case and helped make sure that I understood the process… He always took the time to answer all my questions and helped put my mind at ease. I would highly recommend him and this firm!


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    I was fortunate enough to have been represented and retained by this law firm for my injuries sustained by an under insured motorist. I must say Chantel Fitting and Illya Frangos went above and beyond trying to resolve my case… I would highly recommend this law firm and stop shopping around if you are looking for the best, as this is as good as it gets.

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