Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2018 at 3:57 am    

Curbed San Francisco ran a story at the end of last month about the decision by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to allow the testing of fully automated vehicles. The difference between these tests and previous tests of automated vehicles — there will be no human safety drivers behind the wheel.

The DMV approved the driverless testing on February 26, 2018. The department will post the notice posted on its website for 30 days before it begins approving applications from various tech companies and car manufacturers. The decision has both support and opposition from several organizations. Regardless, you may see automated vehicles without human safety drivers throughout the Bay Area as early as the end of this month.

What Should I Do If I am in an Accident with an Automated Vehicle?

Who do you sue when a driverless vehicle causes an accident? In a traditional car accident, you would file a claim against the driver’s insurance company. If the insurance company failed to pay the claim or negotiate a fair settlement, you could file a lawsuit against the driver to take the matter to court. However, what happens when there is not a driver? The passenger in the vehicle is probably a victim too, so you do not sue the passenger. Therefore, who pays your claim?

Several legal theories might apply. You might assume that the owner of the vehicle is liable for your damages. However, the owner of the car was not driving the vehicle or controlling the vehicle at the time of the crash. If the owner took all steps to ensure the car was operating safely, how could the owner be responsible for an accident?

Therefore, you might seek compensation from the manufacturer or the vehicle or the company who created the software that controlled the vehicle. Was there a defect in the vehicle or the software that could have caused the accident? If neither of these parties is responsible, can you name the car itself as a defendant?

More Questions Than Answers

As you can see, there are many more questions about car accidents involving driverless vehicles than we have answers right now. The laws could evolve and change as more driverless vehicles find their way onto Bay Area streets. It may take some time to fully realize how driverless vehicles will impact personal injury cases involving traffic-related accidents.

Watching for Updates and Changes

Our Bay Area car accident lawyers are monitoring the developments related to driverless vehicles, especially how it relates to accident claims. If you are injured in an accident involving an automated vehicle, you need to contact our office as quickly as possible. The steps you take immediately after the accident could have a significant impact on your ability to recover full compensation for your injuries.

For a free legal consultation with a Bay Area accident attorney, call The Tiemann Law Firm at (916) 999-9000 or visit our website.

Source: “California approves truly driver-free automated cars.” Adam Brinklow. Curbed San Francisco. 27 February 2018.

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