Though it is a tragic set of events that often leads to a car accident that results in serious injuries or death, at least accident victims and their loved ones know where to place blame — the person behind the wheel. But, when it comes to crashes with fully or partially autonomous cars, who is liable?
Massachusetts’ residents may have heard about the fatal self-driving Uber accident that resulted in the death of a woman. The 49-year-old woman was crossing the street when the vehicle struck her. There was actually a person inside the Uber self-driven car, who was supposed to take over, if there was an emergency. For the time-being, all Uber experiments with self-driven cars have been suspended, but the time where these vehicles will dominate the roads is not far off.
Where the vehicle is partially autonomous, which means that there is still some level of human control, it might still be possible to hold an individual accountable. But, the case may end up revolving around whether the actions that led to the crash can be attributed to the vehicle or driver. When fully autonomous vehicles come into the picture, the liability can be contested — manufacturers, vehicle owners and service centers could all potentially be held accountable and also shift the blame. Getting necessary information from the vehicle’s sensors could also be problematic, as the parties involved would have control over the data obtained by the sensors.
While the law struggles to come up with an answer, it is still possible to pursue a civil lawsuit against a reckless or drunk driver who has caused the wreck. Compensation received from the lawsuit may go a long way in easing the financial burden associated with the crash.