Liability questions arise when self-driving cars crash
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a noise? If no one is driving a car and the car crashes, is anyone responsible for the damage? These two potentially maddening questions are really not so different from each other. And as a result, many Americans are concerned about the potential liability implications of allowing self-driving vehicles to operate on the streets of America.
Self-driving vehicles are not completely autonomous. They require a motorist to start them and to remain in the driver's seat in case of emergency. However, because the motorist in the driver's seat is not technically driving, it would be problematic to hold that individual accountable for harm caused by a crash if the car itself was doing the driving.
Similarly, it might make sense to hold the vehicle manufacturer liable for harm caused by a crash, although manufacturers would likely resist embracing this kind of accountability. This becomes problematic particularly because major car manufacturers employ hundreds or even thousands of attorneys to insulate them from liability and the average American tends to have difficulty affording even a single attorney to represent their case.
At present, few self-driving vehicles are on the road. However, if you find yourself in an accident with one, consider contacting an attorney and filing a report just as you would in any other circumstance. As this area of law evolves, the approach motorists may need to take in the event of an accident will likely need to evolve as well.
Source: Findlaw Injured, "What if I Am in a Car Accident With a Self-Driving Car?" Christopher Coble, May 12, 2015