What To Do If Injured In An Accident Involving A Self-Driving Vehicle? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Vehicles with automated driving systems, or to put it more simply, self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea. Several auto makers are in the middle of developing and testing self-driving vehicles, which are expected to enter the market in 2021.

Since human error contributes to most automobile accidents, it is estimated that self-driving vehicles will eliminate this factor and could potentially save lives. However, when these automated vehicles are involved in accidents, the issue of legal responsibility for the collision can be hard to determine.  

Who Is Liable When A Self-Driving Vehicle Injures People In Virginia

Generally, when two vehicles collide, Virginia law holds the at-fault party liable for all injuries and property losses that they caused. But when a car is technically driving itself the first factor that needs to be determined is who was responsible for the crash. In vehicle collision accidents, liability is determined based on one of the following scenarios:  

Fault With Manufacturing or Design

Sometimes, the design of the vehicle can also lead to a crash. For example, in the past, there have been vehicles that were designed with too high centers of gravity and thus led to rollover crashes. So your attorney needs to ask, does the vehicle have a design flaw in the auto-pilot technology that the manufacturer should have recognized? With new technology, come new questions of liability.

Vehicle Malfunction 

Technology is known to fail sometimes. Even with regular vehicles, engines can fail, brakes can refuse to work, and auto parts can turn defective. If a self-driving vehicle is being operated as it should but it fails for some reason, then the vehicle manufacturer may be held liable for the accident and your injuries.

Human Error

No matter how advanced the technology is, a negligent human operator can still lead to a mishap. Your personal injury attorney should check whether the backup driver could have done something to prevent the crash. For example, if the driver misuses the technology or fails to remain alert while at the steering wheel, then the driver might be deemed responsible for the accident. In some cases, the operator of another vehicle might have made an error.

Lax Government Rules

A government regulatory agency that allows self-driving vehicles to be tested on public roads may also be responsible for the crash in some cases. If the testing exposes the public to unreasonable risk of harm, it would be considered the agency’s fault to allow the vehicle on public roadways. And as such, the government body can be held liable for any injuries and damages.

How Does Insurance Work in Self-Driving Vehicle Collisions?

As of this writing, fully self-driving vehicles have not yet reached the Virginia highways. In other words, human drivers still have a degree of control and responsibility for navigating an autonomous vehicle at this point in time. This means that the vehicle driver as well as the manufacturer would still be primarily responsible for any crashes.

Although, consumers can expect to see higher levels of autonomy as time passes. In the next few years, we are bound to see fully-automated vehicles that do not need a backup driver. When that happens, the liability for an auto accident would likely shift more to manufacturers who design and build the auto-pilot mechanism. Until then, the accident will likely be a shared responsibility. 

How Much Compensation Is Available For Autonomous Vehicle Accident in Virginia?

There are a few ways to receive compensations for a self-driving car collision. Damages you may be entitled to may include:

Medical Expenses: The accident injury victim can seek compensation for hospital bills including ER visits, medical care, surgeries, medications, rehabilitative procedures.

Lost Income: If you were forced to take time off work as a direct result of the accident, you can claim compensation for lost wages. If your injuries were so severe that you have sustained permanent impairment or disability, you can claim future wages as well.

Property Damage: You can also seek reimbursement of replacement or repair costs for any personal property that was destroyed or damaged by the autonomous vehicle.

Pain & Suffering: Some accident injuries are so catastrophic that they can result in physical as well as psychological damage as well. As a plaintiff, you can seek compensation for the emotional suffering you had to undergo due to the accident.

Contact Self-Driving Vehicle Accident Attorneys in Virginia For Fast Resolution Today

Have you or a loved one suffered a serious injury or lost someone due to another’s negligence? The personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have 35+ years of experience in auto accident cases in Virginia, and can help you get the justice you deserve.

Remember, the law limits how long you can wait to sue the at-fault parties, so do not wait to seek legal counsel. Allow the experienced and tenacious attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to fight on your behalf and make sure you don’t suffer any longer.

To schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation, call us at (833) 997-1774 and one of our attorneys will be happy to evaluate your situation and suggest the best course of action.