Who is responsible if a driverless car gets into an accident? As Google, Volvo, BMW, and other companies have begun to test-drive their new models in various countries, accidents have occurred. Though the companies have been quick to blame other drivers, the ultimate question of liability still remains.
Liability is always a tricky subject, and different states often have different rules for determining it. The rules also might be different dependent upon the type of collision, particularly if the accident was head-on or was a rear-end collision. All of these factors will come into play with driverless cars as well.
There are myriad ways different governments could address this issue, but some of the manufacturers are trying to get ahead of the curve by announcing they will maintain liability for any accidents that occur with a driverless car. Volvo was the most recent company to make such an announcement. It is good news to hear companies trying to be proactive, and it shows they have faith in their product if they are willing to maintain liability through the life of the vehicle.
Even with these proclamations from the car manufacturers, it is likely that federal and state governments will ultimately have to intervene to determine how liability will be determined. Potential options include:
- The owner of the vehicle being liable
- The “operator” of the vehicle holding liability, if there is some allowance in the technology for a human to override the programming of the vehicle
- The manufacturer of the vehicle maintaining the liability
- The company that created the software that runs the car holding liability
- The municipality carrying some degree of liability, if neglect of the roads has created unsafe conditions for driverless vehicles to try to navigate
If you have been injured in a car accident, you are already well aware of how tricky liability can be. Even if it seems obvious that you aren’t at fault, getting the courts to recognize the truth can be difficult. If you have any questions about liability, please contact an experienced attorney who can answer your questions and help you get the care and compensation you deserve.