When Is a Manufacturer Liable for a Car Accident After an Autopilot Crash?

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A self-driving autopilot car is being manufactured.

Automakers are now working diligently on the technology for autonomous vehicles. It is hoped that publicly available cars will be capable of operating independently without consistent human oversight. Since many manufacturers contend that placing machines in charge instead of people and removing human error will result in fewer car accidents, the public will likely be sold on the idea that these vehicles are safer than normal vehicles.

What Happens if an Autopiloted Car Crashes?

Car accidents frequently involve a driver who is at fault. However, if automakers are serious when they claim that machines will rule and take over, then it makes sense that a technological failure would be required for a car accident to occur. When a product is utilized as intended, but injuries occur, product liability laws hold the product creators accountable for the harm caused. In the near future, these rules may stipulate that crashes result from autopilot system flaws, in which case the manufacturer would be liable.

One of the essential questions will be whether the car manufacturer violated its duties to other drivers when a collision occurred or if the driver alone was at fault. As technology develops, judicial decisions and statutory legislation start to establish a system for handling crashes brought on by driverless automobiles, and the answer to this question may vary.

Many of these autonomous automobiles do not yet assert that they can completely replace the act of driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated a fatal accident involving a Tesla vehicle in Autopilot mode, and the LA Times reported on the findings. The article made it clear that Tesla’s on-screen instructions and autopilot system both clearly place the onus of preventing accidents on the driver.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked into the deadly Tesla accident and several less significant incidents, and they have concluded that there is no need for a recall of these vehicles. According to the NHTSA, at present, in a self-driving car, the driver is still in charge and must exercise caution to prevent accidents.

Is the Manufacturer Responsible for Autopilot Accidents?

As driverless car technology develops, significant problems about liability in the event of an accident will surface. For example, if an autopilot system makes a driver guarantee that the automobile will drive itself, the autopilot system may be held accountable for preventing accidents. If that system malfunctions, the manufacturer might be held accountable for losses in addition to or instead of the driver.

According to Scientific American, automakers will eventually be held legally responsible for accidents brought on by autonomous vehicles. According to Scientific American, when a computational driver substitutes for a human one, the hardware and software manufacturers are held legally responsible, not the automobile owner or the person involved in the accident. The automakers will unavoidably and eventually have to accept responsibility.

The most cutting-edge technology is making its way into automobiles. Companies like Tesla are not only manufacturing electric vehicles but also outfitting them with cutting-edge technology such as autopilot and the capability to drive themselves. Even though it might seem like something from the distant future, cars on the road already have these kinds of technological advancements. Autopilot supporters say that the feature would make driving on public roads safer, although there have already been hundreds of accidents documented with its use. In the majority of cases, legal responsibility still rests with the driver of the vehicle, rather than the manufacturer of the vehicle; however, this may change in the future.

What Is the Total Number of Accidents That Have Involved Autopilot?

The Washington Post reports that there have been 273 accidents involving Tesla vehicles that were operating in autopilot mode. More than seventy percent of the overall incidents that took place while using autopilot features involved vehicles that were equipped with Tesla’s driver assistance systems.

Self-Driving Car Accident Lawyer

Although the law permits a person injured in an autopilot accident to sue the driver who was at fault for the accident, it is possible that Tesla and other manufacturers will one day be held accountable for such accidents. Whether or not Tesla engaged in misleading advertising or made substantial misrepresentations regarding the technology is still the subject of ongoing litigation.

It is usually to your advantage to discuss your case with a car accident lawyer, regardless of the specifics of the situation you find yourself in. Accidents involving cars equipped with autopilot or other forms of autonomous driving technology may give rise to difficult questions regarding liability. An attorney can assist you in determining who might be held liable for the incident and whether you have a legitimate claim for damages.

Call Tatum & Atkinson, the Heavy Hitters After an Accident

Call the experienced team of car accident lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ at (800) 529-0804 or contact us online to schedule a free examination of your case if you or a loved one has been injured due to an accident involving a Tesla vehicle operating in autopilot mode. Because we have more than 65 years of collective expertise, we are familiar with the requirements to hold parties accountable for their misconduct. Our legal team has earned a reputation for excellence, and we prioritize securing the highest possible award for our clients in every case. Give our office a call immediately to have an experienced attorney examine your situation.