Automated driving systems (ADS) like Tesla’s Autopilot mode and Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo, are considered to be the way of the future. Data compiled by Statista.com indicates the autonomous vehicle global market is expected to reach $36 billion by 2025, with North America sharing 29% of the world’s self-driving marketplace.
As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, there are various levels of automated driving systems, the most advanced of which can (in theory) perform all driving tasks and monitor the environment so that (at least in certain circumstances), “the human need not pay attention.”
But as the National Law Review has confirmed, self-driving cars actually have a higher rate of accidents than human-driven cars (although the injuries from self-driving motor vehicle collisions actually tend to be less severe). Overall, there are an average of 9.1 self-driving car accidents per million miles driven. For standard or “regular” motor vehicles, that rate is reduced by more than half, with 4.1 crashes per million miles driven.
But what happens when a self-driving car accident leads to an injury? How is fault determined in self-driving car accidents?
Below we will provide everything you need to know, including self-driving car accident statistics, how liability is determined in autonomous vehicle crashes, and how to file a personal injury claim to recover financial compensation for various losses endured as a result of a collision.
Firstly, it’s important to note that none of the “self-driving” cars operating today on our nation’s roads and highways are 100% autonomous. The NHTSA’s five levels of automation include:
Level 1: An advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) on the vehicle can sometimes assist the human driver with either steering or braking/accelerating (but not both simultaneously).
Level 2: An advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) on the vehicle can itself actually control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under some circumstances. The human driver must continue to pay full attention (“monitor the driving environment”) at all times and perform the rest of the driving task.
Level 3: An automated driving system (ADS) on the vehicle can itself perform all aspects of the driving task under some circumstances. In those circumstances, the human driver must be ready to take back control at any time when the ADS requests the human driver to do so. In all other circumstances, the human driver performs the driving task.
Level 4: An automated driving system (ADS) on the vehicle can itself perform all driving tasks and monitor the driving environment – essentially, do all the driving – in certain circumstances. The human need not pay attention in those circumstances.
Level 5: An automated driving system (ADS) on the vehicle can do all the driving in all circumstances. The human occupants are just passengers and need never be involved in driving.
As we’ve noted in earlier blogs, many companies are developing and testing various forms of artificial intelligence to help improve traffic safety and reduce the number of annual motor vehicle fatalities (which increased significantly in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic). But do autonomous or self-driving features like Tesla’s Autopilot actually improve safety?
As Al Jazeera reported earlier this year, the NHTSA has investigated 29 cases of serious crashes involving Tesla vehicles operating on Autopilot. Additionally, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) confirmed that a Tesla crash occurring outside of Fontana in May was “at least the fourth” U.S. death where the Autopilot driving feature was engaged at the time of the incident.
Earlier this week, the NHTSA announced a formal probe into Tesla Autopilot crashes involving emergency response vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, etc.). Results from some recent studies have indicated that Tesla vehicles operating on Autopilot mode may be more prone to suddenly (and inexplicably) crashing into emergency vehicles. The NHTSA probe will examine 765,000 U.S. Tesla vehicles with Autopilot built since 2014, according to Reuters.
The NHTSA said it had identified 11 crashes since January 2018 in which Teslas “have encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes.”
Additionally, a lawsuit was recently filed against Tesla alleging that a Model X using Autopilot struck and killed a pedestrian in 2018 near Tempe, Arizona. That particular incident is believed to be the first fatal Tesla Autopilot crash involving a pedestrian.
While all of these examples are clearly concerning, they shouldn’t automatically lead one to conclude that self-driving cars are more dangerous than traditional vehicles. As Tesla’s Chief Executive, Elon Musk, tweeted in April, “Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle.”
The problem with determining if self-driving cars like Teslas on Autopilot mode are actually safer often has to do with the uncertainty over whether or not the feature was properly engaged at the time of the collision. Furthermore, as we’ll discuss below, that uncertainty may complicate how liability is determined in self-driving car accident civil lawsuits.
Carsurance.net compiled a list of some self-driving car accident statistics. A few of the more noteworthy stats include:
California is a pure comparative fault state. This means that when a car accident occurs, a portion of the responsibility is assigned to each involved driver. In some cases, 100% fault can be applied to a single driver. In other cases, both drivers (or multiple drivers in instances of multi-vehicle crashes) will be assigned a portion of fault for the car accident.
Comparative fault can be somewhat more challenging to prove in self-driving car accident cases. This is one of many reasons why having a skilled, experienced, and proven personal injury lawyer like Sam Dordulian can be so important. Dordulian founded DLG after a decorated career as a Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. With over 100 jury trial victories and more than $100,000,000 successfully recovered in settlements and verdicts for his clients, Dordulian offers self-driving car accident victims peace of mind. Moreover, Dordulian’s track record of success and unwavering dedication to clients provides confidence that will allow you to focus on what’s most important – your physical recovery and overall well-being – while we handle the stressful details and work tirelessly to obtain justice on your behalf.
If you’re injured in a car accident where a self-driving vehicle is at fault, the opposing party may attempt to argue that a product liability or manufacturing defect was actually the cause of the crash. But all drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and in a manner that will not endanger others on the roads. Accordingly, if you’re injured in a self-driving car accident, contacting the experienced team at Dordulian Law Group (DLG) can be the most important decision you make.
Whether the collision was due to a technological glitch or human error, our top-rated car accident attorneys will use our years of experience and past results to develop a precise legal strategy demonstrating the true cause of the crash. We’ll fight to help you recover the maximum damages award you need to make a complete recovery – physically, emotionally, and financially.
Self-driving car accidents can result in significant damages – both economic and non-economic. At DLG, we’ll fight aggressively to help recover all applicable damages for your self-driving crash.
Some common damages that may be recoverable after an autonomous driving car accident include:
In the event of a fatality that is due to a self-driving car accident – of which there have been several reported in recent years – a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by the decedent’s surviving family members. A wrongful death claim can be a means of recovering various losses, including:
Whatever the circumstances of your self-driving car accident entail, the experienced and proven team of personal injury lawyers at DLG are here to help you obtain justice by fighting to recover the maximum financial damages award you deserve. Car accident victims consistently choose DLG because our experience and past success offer a true indication of the level of personalized attention and dedication we offer each and every client.
DLG’s advantages – in terms of skill, results, and experience – are truly unparalleled:
Proving liability in a self-driving car accident can be more challenging than in a traditional motor vehicle collision. This can be especially true when fighting for non-economic damages that are subjective and difficult to quantify, such as pain and suffering or emotional trauma.
Not having a skilled and experienced attorney with proven results like Sam Dordulian and his Car Accident Division team at DLG can be the difference between recovering a maximum financial damages award and being left with having to accept a lowball offer from a settlement mill firm where you’re merely a number.
When it comes to the important responsibility of handling your self-driving car accident claim, don’t settle for an inexperienced or undedicated firm that could put your case in jeopardy. Choose the DLG Advantage, and get access to the entire team of experts within our Car Accident Division – including two attorneys who previously worked as defense counsel for major auto insurance companies.
Today, those former auto insurance industry insiders fight on behalf of our clients, ensuring you’re never taken advantage of by these major corporations or their high-powered legal teams. With our attorney’s unique knowledge and industry experience, you can be confident that every underhanded tactic or dirty trick attempted by these auto insurance companies will be effectively countered, and your rights will be protected.
And with our No Win/No Fee Guarantee, you’ll never worry about upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses for your self-driving car accident. At DLG, when we take on a case it’s through what’s known as a contingency fee agreement. That means that when we accept your claim, we not only believe we can and will successfully obtain justice and recover maximum financial compensation on your behalf, but we’ll also never ask for a penny until we achieve that goal. With DLG’s experienced Car Accident Division Team, you pay nothing until we successfully recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your self-driving car accident injury.
Contact us today online or by phone at 818-322-4056 to arrange a free and no obligation consultation. We’ll listen to the facts of your case, launch a thorough investigation led by our in-house Chief Investigator and retired LAPD detective, Moses Castillo, and develop a precise legal strategy based on our years of experience and proven success.
For your self-driving car accident injury, the best call you can make is to California’s leading team of experienced and dedicated personal injury attorneys at DLG. We’ll fight aggressively as your dedicated legal advocates to ensure you obtain the justice you deserve.
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