There may come a day when autonomous vehicle technology grows so far advanced that it becomes possible for drivers to take their eyes off the road without endangering anyone. That day, however, is still a long way off. Right now, cars of this kind that are allowed on California roads are, at best, semi-autonomous. They require that a human driver be present and attentive at all times to changes happening on the road.
The driver needs to be watching the road at all times, and be ready to press down on the brakes or turn the steering wheel in the event that the sensors of the car miss something vital (and they still can). One of the troubling legal questions that raises is this: on whom does liability fall when someone gets injured in a crash which involves an autonomous vehicle?
The majority of personal injury cases that involve car accidents point back to some form of negligence. Every driver owes a duty of care to those present on the road, and when this duty is breached by an accident which hurts someone, it follows that said driver acted with negligence. The injured party is then able to hold the negligent driver responsible for the damages which they caused, and that includes pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and other things.
With that being said, there are cases now and then where what is known as product liability can fall on the makers of the vehicle, provided it is some defect in their product which caused the injured person harm. Up until now, no consistent way has been devised for figuring out where liability falls in accidents involving semi-autonomous vehicles. If a defect in the car itself caused the accident, then the automaker can be held liable. If, on the other hand, the human driver was distracted to the point where they failed to hit the brakes when they could have if they had been paying attention, then they are liable to some extent for the crash. What is unclear here is whether the automaker would share some of that liability.
For someone injured in such a crash as well as their families, it is important that they have the means and avenues to recover the full compensation that they are legally owed. An experienced wrongful death attorney can guide you through the steps to be taken to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and litigate to maximum effect.