Advocates of self-driving vehicles claim that they will make the roads safer. However, self-driving car accidents have already happened in California, causing serious injuries and death. The owners and operators of autonomous vehicles can be held financially liable for injuries caused by defective autonomous vehicles or negligence.
As more driverless vehicles begin driving on Los Angeles roads, we will likely see an increase in autonomous vehicle accidents. Personal injury lawsuits involving autonomous vehicles can be complex, and it’s important that you work with an experienced attorney who understands this developing area of the law. Contact Saeedian Law Group to schedule a free case evaluation to learn how we can fight for you and your rights.
“Driver Deployment” Permits for Self-Driving Cars in California
California has begun accepting applications for fully driverless vehicles. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) began issuing “Driver’s Deployment” permits to autonomous vehicles (AVs) with safety drivers present. Drivers without safety drivers are referred to as driverless vehicles. The permit allows companies to collect fares from passengers and offers shared rides.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has received 480 reports of autonomous vehicle collisions as of June 2022. If you have been injured in an accident caused by an autonomous vehicle, it’s important that you discuss your case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation from the company that owned the autonomous vehicle that caused your collision.
Are Fully Driverless Vehicles Allowed on California Roads?
The Department of Motor Vehicles has begun accepting fully driverless vehicle applications. These testing permits will allow fully autonomous cars without human safety test drivers. The vehicles will not have gas and brake pedals, mirrors, or steering wheels. Tesla already has an autopilot system that drivers can use as a self-driving mode.
Drivers are still required to be in the driver’s seat, ready to take control of the vehicle in case of an accident. Nonetheless, there have been instances in which Tesla owners are caught sitting in the back seat while their vehicle self-drives them. Uber, Google (Waymo), and General Motors are also testing driverless vehicles on the road.
Proving Liability After Being Injured By a Self-Driving Vehicle in California
If you have been injured in an accident caused by an autonomous car with a safety driver inside the vehicle, you may be able to hold the safety driver liable. Safety drivers are in the vehicle to prevent an accident if the self-driving vehicle makes an error or fails to prevent an accident. Safety drivers must use reasonable care while they are in the vehicle. If a safety driver was texting or not paying attention when the accident occurred, they might be liable for the resulting accident.
Holding the Driverless Vehicle Company Liable for the Accident
Failures in autonomous driving systems have caused driverless vehicle accidents. There are a number of reasons why a self-driving vehicle could experience an error that results in a car accident. As an injury, you must prove that the company that owned the driverless vehicle engaged in negligence to recover compensation. They may have failed to maintain their vehicles or run safety tests to ensure they operated safely.
The driverless vehicle company may have known about a problem with the vehicle that could lead to an accident but failed to address it to cut costs. Suppose you can prove that the vehicle owner failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances to prevent injury to others on the road. In that case, you can recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Pursuing a Product Liability Claim
According to California’s product liability laws, victims injured because of defective products may have a legal claim for compensation. The designers, manufacturers, and retailers of self-driving vehicles are strictly liable for injuries caused by the vehicle. You may not have to prove that the company was negligent. Instead, you can recover compensation by proving that the product was dangerous and caused the accident. A product liability lawsuit involving a driverless vehicle could involve one or more of the following types of defects:
- Manufacturing defects
- Design defects, and
- Failure to warn of defects
Software bugs may cause an accident, along with system failures, or the system may fail to allow the operator or safety driver to take control of the vehicle. The software may fail to alert the safety driver that a dangerous road condition is ahead. Driverless vehicle systems rely on cameras, radar, sensors, and powerful computers to operate the vehicle. When one or more of these components are defective or malfunctioning, the vehicle cannot safely control the speed, steering, and braking.
Pursuing an Insurance Settlement
The owners of driverless vehicles generally have commercial auto insurance policies. Another option for recovering compensation is to pursue a settlement with the insurance company. The attorneys at Saeedian Law Group have extensive experience negotiating aggressively with insurance adjusters. After the accident, an insurance representative may contact you and try to pressure you into accepting an initial settlement offer. Generally, initial settlement offers are far too low and will only cover some of your damages. Working with an attorney can help you pursue the full and fair amount of compensation you need and deserve.
Compensation Available in a Driverless Vehicle Lawsuit
Plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits can pursue compensatory damages, also called economic and non-economic damages. The purpose of awarding damages to personal injury victims is to try to put them in a similar position they would have been in if the accident had never occurred. The following types of damages are available in a driverless car accident:
- Past and future medical treatment
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Court costs
- Loss of limb
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Physical therapy
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Discuss Your Case with a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney
If you or your loved one have been injured in a self-driving car accident in Los Angeles, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, and other damages. Contact Saeedian Law Group to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.