car accident lawyer

Some believe that a self-driving car actually eliminates accidents because technology or robotics are more precise.

However, the reality is autonomous vehicles cannot entirely eliminate car accidents. There are been several injuries and deaths across the country involving malfunction of an autonomous vehicle, like a Tesla or Uber.

So, who should be held legally responsible for these accidents?

If you are injured in an accident involving a vehicle being operated on autopilot, our car accident lawyer can help you determine who should be held responsible.

Tesla Autopilot Crash in May 2018 Leads to Injuries

In May of 2018, a woman was injured in Utah when her Tesla crashed into a fire truck while on autopilot. Although she was “operating” the vehicle at the time, she was looking at her phone at the moment of the collision. Her foot was broken and she also claimed loss of enjoyment of life, along with her physical impairments. This is not the only case like this. In fact, there have been at least two cases that were fatal.

Tesla’s autopilot system, which was first implemented in 2015, allows the vehicle to automatically break, steer and switch lanes when the system is engaged. Of course, the autopilot program is not infallible. Instead, the system is susceptible to defects like most other machines and computers. Unfortunately, autopiloted cards are often advertised as preventing or avoiding accidents, but that is not always the reality.

A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help With a Defective Product Claim

In defense of many defective product claims, Tesla has argued that is Autopilot feature has effectively reduced car accident occurrences by 40%. Yet, there is very little scientific data to support this assertion. More importantly, though, Tesla argues that the person operating the vehicle still has an obligation to ensure that the autopilot is performing appropriately. Autopilot systems have not reached the stage where a driver can “go to sleep and wake up at their destination.”

While this argument may seem reasonable, there is also the consideration that having an autopilot system lulls drivers into becoming passive passengers who pay very little attention to the road. As such, automakers who offer autopilot systems in their vehicles should reasonably foresee this danger.

What You Need to Know About Determining Fault

Sometimes, the most important aspect of a lawsuit is who is at fault in a car accident. In states which permit identifying one party as liable, this is often the most complicated and heated debate. Below is an explanation of how to identify who is at fault for an accident and how such determination can affect an award of damages.

Why Determining Fault is So Important

The issue of fault is the most important aspect of a lawsuit because without knowing who the party is you should sue, you cannot recover.  If you do not determine who that person or entity is, that party could escape financial liability for the accident. If more than one party is accused of liability, determining who is at fault requires identifying the levels of fault. In other words, each party will only be responsible for the amount of damages that can be attributed to his or her actions.

Obviously, if a self-driving car is involved in an accident, there is no actual driver who can be held responsible. Many times, issues of product liability are applicable because you are dealing with a piece of machinery and a computer. If it was a human driver, then legal theories of negligence would be applicable. The only way to hold a computer responsible is by suing the entity that created and/or programmed the computer. Since self-driving vehicles are complicated pieces of equipment, there are other legal issues involved, as well.

Determining Who to Sue for Car Accident Injuries

In order to recover after a car accident, you have to first determine who is at fault.  Liability cannot be placed on anyone until it is determined who caused the accident or put another way, whose negligence lead to your injuries. 

Depending on how serious the car accident is, there could be very significant repair costs and medical bills.  The person who is determined to be at fault is the person responsible for reimbursing the victim for their damages.  If you or someone you love, has been involved in a crash where a vehicle’s autopilot system was engaged, contact our car accident lawyer, to review the facts of your case and help you determine if you have a claim.

If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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