Who's at Fault for a Self-Driving Car Accident in California?

Who’s at Fault for a Self-Driving Car Accident in California?

With the technology’s new nature, self-driving cars create a lot of confusion regarding what happens if you get into an accident with one. In California, there are increasingly more cars on the road that offer hands-free driving. With it comes an increased risk of failing to intervene in time to avoid an accident.

At LA Century Law, our Tarzana auto accident lawyers can help you know who’s at fault for a self-driving car accident and the compensation you may be entitled to from the at-fault party. Contact us to begin investigating the circumstances surrounding your crash with a self-driving car.

Misconceptions With Self-Driving Cars

A truly autonomous or self-driving car is not commercially available as of July 2023. New cars offer a whole range of assisted driving features, but even with these features, cars cannot autonomously drive as of yet.

In California, no car is actually able to be driven without someone behind the wheel to guide the vehicle and intervene if necessary.

There are certain jurisdictions, like San Francisco, that have allowed autonomous cars to operate without a driver inside, but this is not without its problems. Our focus is on vehicles that transport individuals with a driver behind the wheel who is supposed to be responsible for maneuvering the car when needed.

Cars with self-driving features

Auto manufacturers, such as Ford, Cadillac, and Tesla, include a number of assisted driving features onboard their newer vehicle models. Some of the advanced driver assistance features available include:

  • Lane-change assistance
  • Lane-centering assistance
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blind-spot and collision warnings

The combination of these and other features come together to give drivers a near-fully assisted driving experience. There are many tasks that the vehicle is able to perform with no driver input, though legally, a driver must always be present and aware in the driver’s seat.

Self-driving vehicle claims by manufacturers

Recently, with confusion among the public about the degrees of autonomy that vehicles can demonstrate, California passed a law that bans manufacturers from claiming their vehicles are “self-driving” for the time being.

Self-Driving Vehicles in California

There is no law against a self-driving vehicle in California, but all vehicles on the road are required by state law (CVC 38750) to have a driver behind the wheel at all times, and they must follow all traffic laws. This includes not driving distracted.

Fault in a Self-Driving Car Accident

When a self-driving car accident occurs, fault for the accident will still be determined the same way it is now, with the driver of the autonomous car being responsible for taking action when the self-driving features fail to prevent an accident from happening. The law will still require the self-driving vehicle to have a human driver to take over control.

Manufacturer and software developer fault

If the accident is an isolated case, then it is unlikely that a vehicle defect or a software bug could be to blame. Attempting to place fault on a manufacturer or a software developer for a single accident would be a difficult task; a true defect or bug would be more likely if many cases of the defect or bug could be proven under the umbrella of a class action suit.

Lawyers for Self-Driving Car Accidents

When a self-driving car accident occurs, it is important to seek legal guidance from an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who understands the steps you need to take to pursue a compensation claim for your injuries and damages. There is no need to try to navigate the complexities of a personal injury claim on your own while still trying to heal from your injuries.

At LA Century Law, our skilled personal injury lawyers offer clients a range of benefits and assistance. Our legal professionals have a deep knowledge of the state’s current self-driving laws and how they can be interpreted based on the specifics of your accident. We investigate whether the fault for your accident lies with the other driver or potentially the vehicle’s manufacturer.

When against the insurance company, we’re familiar with their tactics and will advocate for you in court if necessary.

The car accident lawyers at LA Century Law are available for a free consultation to discuss the specific factors that affect your accident claim. Let us represent you in your self-driving car accident case.

FAQs About Autonomous Vehicles

How soon could fully autonomous vehicles be a reality?

Automobile manufacturers like Tesla, Cadillac, and Ford are in a heated race. They have hope to have publicly available, fully-autonomous vehicles on the market by the end of 2023.

Who is at fault if a self-driving vehicle hits a pedestrian?

If a pedestrian were hit, the driver of the vehicle would be at-fault for not intervening to stop the collision. The pedestrian could potentially share fault if they were crossing illegally — known as jaywalking.

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