Who Gets Sued in an Accident with a Self-Driving Car?

Madeleine Jones
June 18, 2016

pedestrian crossing sidewalk with oncoming cars, car accidentJust five years ago, the thought of having a self-driving car seemed too futuristic. Today, tech companies and automakers that have created driverless cars have joined forces to form the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. This coalition comprised of Google, Ford, Volvo, Uber, and Lyft plans to lobby the government to allow autonomous vehicles on roads across the United States. One of the points that is being pursued by the group is to lessen the liability of the automaker/tech developer if a self-driving car is involved in a crash.

Problem with the Lobbyists’ Goal

It has been proposed that self-driving cars should not be liable, and should receive more protection under the law than the other car’s driver if the car is in an accident. Therefore, if the other driver wanted to sue or seek damages from the manufacturer or programmer of a self-driving car, they may have a battle on their hands that requires a car accident attorney to fight a legal battle seeking a resolution for their case.

Las Vegas car accident attorney, Jamie S. Cogburn, understands the concerns the public may have over liability issues with driverless cars. Cogburn says, “The Self-Driving Coalition could potentially seek to protect the manufacturers and programmers of these driverless vehicles instead of drivers. This would give them an unfair advantage over drivers who are involved in an accident with one of these vehicles. Therefore, careful regulation is required.”

How Safe are Driverless Cars?

According to the United States Department of Transportation, 94 percent of car crashes are a result of human error. Motor vehicles crashes have become the leading cause of death for young adults between 15 to 29 years of age. The Self-Driving Coalition claims that the use of self-driving cars will cut down on the number of crashes on the road.

According to Google, their fleet of autonomous vehicles have only been involved in a dozen accidents. Most of these accidents involved the car sitting at a red light and being rear-ended. Occasionally drivers have had to take manual control of the vehicle to avoid being in an accident.