Driverless cars are widely considered a great innovation for automotive safety. However, these vehicles require some human control to keep the occupants safe. This could be through remote control or a physical driver. Although driverless vehicles utilize updated technology, they can still be involved in accidents.

This is because the mechanical and software components of the vehicle can fail. Additionally, these vehicles operate with other human-driven cars, and you cannot control the actions of other road users. Being involved in a driverless car accident can be a traumatizing experience. You can claim compensation if you have suffered injuries from such an accident.

Compensation from a driverless accident could be obtained through negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company or by filing a civil lawsuit in court. Seeking compensation for your accident can be tedious and requires attention to detail. Therefore, you will require top-notch legal guidance to secure a favorable outcome in your case.

Understanding a Driverless Car Accident Lawsuit

Self-driving cars have revolutionized the driving concept, which has made drivers passive passengers. The idea behind these vehicles is to eliminate the leading cause of accidents: driver error. California law does not allow vehicles to be on the interstates without a person in the driver’s seat. However, the regulations on how much control the person should have over the vehicle are unclear.

While driverless vehicle technology is still new, cars have already been involved in numerous collisions. You can be involved in different types of accidents with these vehicles, including collisions with other vehicles, hitting obstacles, and pedestrian accidents. You can file a lawsuit and recover compensation if you are injured in such an accident.

However, determining compensation and proving the case can be a challenge. Taking the following steps will help protect your rights in a personal injury case:

  • Reporting the accident to law enforcement. The first step you should take after an accident is to call 911. This allows law enforcement officers and first responders to come to the scene. After assessing the scene, the police officers will write a report, which can be critical to your lawsuit.
  • Seeking medical attention. After an auto accident, seeking immediate medical care is critical. Assessment by a physician helps identify and treat all your injuries. Additionally, your medical report will be significant evidence when you seek compensation for your injuries.

Common Causes of Driverless Car Accidents

In a conventional car accident, the liability falls on the at-fault driver. In this case, their insurance company will compensate you for your damages. However, establishing liability becomes more complicated when the vehicle is self-driving. Since no self-driving vehicle is completely automated, backup drivers control the vehicles through a computer.

When you are injured in a driverless car accident, establishing fault for the accident will depend on the exact cause. Common causes of these accidents include:

Vehicle Malfunction

Although driverless vehicles are manufactured with strict safety standards, they have vehicle parts similar to those of a normal car. The car may be prone to mechanical failures that can cause serious car accidents. Common vehicle malfunctions could include:

  • Tire/wheel failure. Wheel and tire-related problems make up a significant percentage of auto accidents in California. This could be a result of tire blowouts or worn tires. Although there may be no human driver behind the wheel of a driverless car, weak and worn tires could malfunction, causing a collision.
  • Brake failure. The brakes of a driverless car are automated. However, they can still fail to engage when the vehicle encounters an obstacle or pedestrian. Accidents resulting from faulty brakes can cause serious injuries. The responsibility for preventing brake issues lies with the vehicle owner. This is done through a thorough inspection and constant repair.
  • Engine failure. Automated car engines are designed to function exceptionally well with little maintenance. However, a faulty engine could be catastrophic. Even when the vehicle is operated by a computer, engine failure is not an error that can be easily corrected while the car moves.
  • Headlight or tail light failure. While automated vehicles do not require too much driver intervention to operate, they must be easily visible to other vehicles on the road. If the headlights or taillights are not functioning properly at night or in foggy areas, other vehicles can crash into the driverless vehicle.

Software Malfunction

Most driverless vehicles have numerous computer systems that work together to automate most vehicle functions. This software is very complicated and still under development to help them function under all conditions. If the sensors or software fail while the vehicle moves, you could suffer a serious accident and injuries.

Backup Driver Error

The technology of self-driving vehicles is still developing. Therefore, human intervention may be required under certain conditions. At certain areas of the road, a driver may be required to stay alert and be ready to control the vehicle.

This means that driverless vehicles are only partially automated. Driver error can play a significant role in accidents caused by these vehicles. This could occur when the backup operator is not alert or fails to spot a dangerous condition. If you are injured in a driverless car accident, you can build your lawsuit on driver error.

Other Road Users

Although driverless cars are automated, the operations of such a vehicle cannot control the actions of other drivers and road users. Other drivers on the road must operate their vehicles safely and obey all the traffic rules. The following conduct from other road users can cause driverless car accidents:

  • Distracted driving. Even when the software of driverless cars functions perfectly, you may not be safe on the road with a distracted driver. A driver is distracted when their physical and mental concentration is not on the road. This could be through texting while driving, checking the navigation, or personal grooming. When a driver is distracted, they can easily collide with the driverless vehicle from the side or the rear.
  • Faulty vehicle parts. If another vehicle malfunctions, the car could roll over the road and collide with the driverless car. This could cause serious accidents and injuries to the occupants of the driverless car.
  • Failure to give the right of way. Every driver on the road must adhere to the right-of-way rules. Failure to do this can result in serious collisions.
  • Drunk Driving. A drunk driver's ability to operate safely is impaired. When another driver on the road is intoxicated, they can collide with the driverless car and cause catastrophic injuries.

Design Defects

Driverless vehicles have complex software, cameras, sensors, and other automated systems that can control the vehicle without needing a human driver. These systems must all work perfectly to ensure the vehicle operates as planned. Unfortunately, these systems may be prone to hacking and software bugs, which can interrupt the systems and cause serious accidents.

Vehicle Fails to Identify Obstacles

Autonomous vehicles have sensors that help identify stop signs, road conditions, and stop signs. Under certain conditions, a driver must take control of the driverless vehicles to ensure utmost safety. This is because excessive traffic and hazardous weather conditions can make it challenging for the sensors to function correctly.

However, when there are unforeseen road conditions and obstacles, the risk of a collision or vehicle malfunction is high.

Filing a Driverless Car Accident Lawsuit

Driverless cars can be involved in various accidents. If you are a victim in a driverless car accident, you may sustain serious and life-changing injuries.

Fortunately, you can file a lawsuit against the liable parties in your accident and recover compensation. You can follow these steps to file a lawsuit after a driverless car crash:

  • Collect relevant evidence. Before you present your lawsuit to the court, you should collect all the evidence possible about the cause of your accident. This could include taking photographs of the accident scene and obtaining surveillance videos of the area before and after the accident from business owners. You can identify the witnesses and ask them to testify in your case.
  • Identify the liable parties. After determining the exact cause of your accident, you can identify liable parties. Knowing the party liable for your accident will give you defendants for your case. Liability in a driverless car accident can fall on the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Seek legal guidance. While individuals injured in a driverless car accident can recover compensation, the at-fault parties' insurance companies are reluctant to offer compensation. Insurance companies can use multiple tactics to make you accept liability for the accident and downplay your lawsuit. Therefore, it pays to have a skilled lawyer on the case. Your attorney will help you deal with insurance companies and file a strong lawsuit.

Liability in a Driverless Car Accident Lawsuit

Liability is a critical part of a car accident lawsuit in California. With auto accidents being a leading cause of personal injury lawsuits, driverless car accidents have brought more complications. Liability is based on negligence. A person’s acts are considered negligent when they act with disregard for the safety of others. The elements of negligence you must prove to establish liability in this case include:

  • The Defendant Owed You a Duty of Care

Before you are compensated for injuries from a driverless car accident, you must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care. Everyone involved in road operations is responsible for ensuring that their actions are safe and do not cause harm to other people.

Depending on the liable parties you name in your lawsuit, you can show that the human operator owed you the duty to operate safely and respond to emergencies appropriately. Additionally, the driverless vehicle manufacturer is responsible for ensuring all vehicle systems function appropriately.

  • The Defendant Breached the Duty of Care

While proving liability for your lawsuit, you must show how the defendant breached their duty towards you. Common examples of breaches of duty:

  1. Distraction from the human operator of the driverless vehicle. Since driverless cars are not completely automated, you can show that the human operator breached their duty of care towards you by being distracted or failing to intervene during a malfunction.
  2. Improper design and installation of vehicle software. Since there is no human to operate the driverless vehicles directly, the software designer must be keen to ensure everything works correctly.
  3. Drunk driving by another driver on the road. You must prove that their intoxication puts you at risk of injury if you file a lawsuit against a drunk driver.
  4. Manufacture of faulty vehicle parts. Some investigations have uncovered that malfunctions and defendants with driverless vehicles cause these accidents.
  5. Poor maintenance of the roads. Like conventional car accidents, driverless collisions can result from poor road maintenance. In such a case, you can prove that the authorities responsible for road construction breached their duty of care.
  • The Breach of Duty Caused Your Injuries

After establishing a breach of duty, you must show the relationship between the defendant’s actions and your injuries. Your injuries must be a direct consequence of the defendant’s actions. However, there is no requirement for these actions to be the only contributors to the collision.

  • You Suffered Damage from the Breach

Driverless car accidents can cause severe injuries or even victims' deaths. Although a physical injury is unnecessary to recover compensation from your driverless car accident lawsuit, you must establish your damages before receiving compensation. Damages could be physical, emotional, or financial.

Compensation Benefits in a Driverless Car Accident Lawsuit

You may be entitled to compensation if you are injured in a driverless car accident or the driver engages autopilot mode on their vehicle:

Medical Expenses

A driverless car accident can result in serious and life-changing physical injuries, including:

  • Head and brain injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries.
  • Broken bones.
  • Amputation and disfigurement.
  • Whiplash.

Your medical expenses will accumulate when you are taken to the hospital in an ambulance after the accident. Some of these injuries take time to recover. This will require you to stay in the hospital and undergo expensive procedures. After filing your lawsuit, the at-fault party and their insurance company will be responsible for your medical bills.

You can increase your chances of receiving maximum compensation by ensuring that all your injuries are recorded, and the medical report is presented to the court.

Lost Income

You may be unable to return to work for weeks or months following the driverless car accident, depending on the seriousness of your injuries. Lost income is the money you would have earned from your work if you were never injured. This will include the following:

  • Your monthly salary.
  • Overtime pay.
  • Bonuses.
  • Income from self-employment.

You can claim compensation for the lost wages using a letter from your employer, pay stubs, and tax return reports.

Pain and Suffering

Involvement in an auto accident can cause serious physical injuries and emotional trauma. Some injuries will require you to undergo painful surgical procedures. This can prevent you from enjoying your life. Although you cannot equate pain with money, the court can award you compensation for the effects of the accident on your physical and emotional well-being.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit after a Fatal Driverless Car Collision?

A driverless car accident can cause the loss of a life. It can be devastating to lose a loved one under these circumstances. In addition to the emotional trauma of the law, funeral, and burial expenses can leave you struggling financially.

You can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person liable for the accident and recover compensation for your losses. Not all family members in California qualify to seek wrongful death compensation. You can file the claim if you have the following relationships with the deceased:

  • Spouse.
  • Domestic partner.
  • Child.
  • Parent.
  • The executor of the deceased’s estate.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, you must establish liability and prove the damages you have suffered. If the lawsuit is successful, you can be compensated for the following damages:

  • Burial and funeral expenses.
  • Loss of financial support that the deceased could have provided.
  • Loss of consortium.
  • Medical expenses that the deceased could have accumulated before their death.

Find a Competent Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me

There is always a risk of being involved in an accident when you take a trip with a driverless transportation service. Driverless cars can be involved in accidents for various reasons, including software errors, vehicle malfunctions, and outside factors like recklessness from other drivers and poor road conditions.

You will be entitled to compensation if your accident results from another person’s negligence. If you file a personal injury lawsuit, the court will order compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered in the accident. Like conventional accident lawsuits, you are responsible for identifying the liable parties in your case and establishing their liability in the accident.

If you have suffered a serious injury, battling a personal injury lawsuit can be challenging. Therefore, hiring and retaining a personal injury lawyer throughout your case is critical. At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we will offer the expert legal guidance you need to recover maximum compensation from your lawsuit. Call us at 424-231-2013 to discuss more details of your lawsuit.