Who is Liable in a Driverless Car Accident?

by | Sep 10, 2021 | Blog | 0 comments

At one time, driverless cars only seemed to exist in scenes of blockbuster movies; however, those scenes have now become real life. The continuing evolution of technology and driverless vehicles is a very competitive market at a projected $556.67 billion dollars by 2026. There are six levels of autonomy as designated by The National Highway Traffic Association (NHTA), with the majority of today’s driverless cars functioning at an automation level 0-2 or partial automation. Drivers must remain alert with their hands on the wheel for the vehicle to stay in motion.  Despite enhanced safety features of partial automation, accidents still occur. So, who is liable in a driverless car accident?  

Ordinary accidents and liability laws, in general, are complicated.  A basic breakdown is as follows: 

  • Kansas: Kansas is a no-fault state: Each driver’s insurance pays their own medical bills regardless of who is at fault.
  • Missouri: Missouri is a fault state: The party who caused the accident is responsible for paying for the victim’s injuries.

Driverless car accidents may or may not involve two drivers if partial automation was being used, and may involve the vehicle’s manufacturer. Three main items will be reviewed in an investigation involving a driverless car accident. 

  • Vehicle operator:  Partial automation still requires there to be an alert driver with hands on the wheel to respond to warnings or to take over. If an alert or warning is ignored and an accident occurs, the driver of the driverless car could be liable.
  • Manufacturer:  A vehicle manufacturer of any type could be liable if a defect is deemed the cause of an accident. 
  • Technology or software company: It goes without saying that cars with autonomous technology have a lot of functioning software. If an alarm or sensor fails, causing an accident to occur, liability could be determined.

The future is set toward driverless cars with the mindset of reducing human error-caused accidents. Determining who is liable in today’s world of driverless car accidents however can be complicated and is best suited to an experienced car accident attorney.  If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a driverless car, contact the law offices of Reginald Keith Davis, Attorney at Law, for your free consultation.

Phone: (913) 299-8789

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