Skip to Content

Establishing Liability with Autonomous Vehicles

woman driving a car

As autonomous vehicles become increasingly prevalent on our roads, it is important to consider how liability will be established in the event of an accident. While autonomous cars can potentially significantly reduce the number of accidents that occur each year, they are not perfect, and there will inevitably be some incidents where they are at fault. In these cases, it is essential to have a clear understanding of how liability will be established.

Vehicles Are Not Completely Autonomous… Yet.

It is important to note that cars are not fully autonomous yet. While many new models have features that allow for hands-free driving, such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, the driver is still required to pay attention to the road and be prepared to take control of the vehicle if necessary.

SAE International, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers, classifies vehicle autonomy into six levels. The first level (level 0) details cars with no autonomous features. In contrast, the last level (level 5) regards vehicles where a steering wheel may be optional. Currently, cars on the road operate within levels 0 to 2, with the most autonomy coming in the form of adaptive cruise control and lane monitoring software.

Who Can Be Held Responsible?

When it comes to autonomous vehicles, many potential liability issues could arise. The following parties may be liable for an accident if the car with autonomous features was found at fault:

The Manufacturer

If the manufacturer is found to have been negligent in the development or testing of the software, they may be held liable for any injuries or damage that results from an accident. Additionally, if the software is found to have a defect that causes an accident, the manufacturer may be held liable under product liability law.

The Driver

If an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident, the driver may be held liable if it can be proven that the driver was at fault. For example, if the driver was distracted at the time of the accident or if the driver failed to maintain the vehicle properly, the driver could be held liable.

Looking for a Car Accident Attorney in San Francisco?

If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of what to do next. The experienced car accident attorneys at Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn can help. We will fight for the compensation you deserve and work to get you the best possible result.

Contact Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn today at (415) 940-7176 to schedule a free consultation.