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The Future of Self-Driving Cars: Who Will be Liable for Accidents?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2019 | Auto Accidents, Personal Injury |

Many companies have developed technology for motor vehicles to be partially or completely autonomous. Advocates for self-driving cars claim that taking vehicle operation out of the hands of drivers will largely eliminate human error, which is the cause of many car crashes. However, several people – including a pedestrian – have already died in accidents involving self-driving cars. As more and more of these vehicles are on the roads in the future, who will be responsible for the injuries and deaths from car accidents?

The Manufacturers

Auto manufacturers such as Tesla have been long working to fine-tune the technology behind self-driving cars. Any defects in these systems can cause the self-driving car to malfunction, resulting in an accident. For example, if a self-driving system fails to detect an obstacle or another vehicle ahead, the brakes may not engage and the self-driving car may crash directly into the obstacle or vehicle. This can result in serious injuries to the occupants of the self-driving car, other cars, or pedestrians.

Manufacturers have a duty to make and sell safe products, as well as to warn consumers of possible risks. Corporations may be liable if any of the following led to a crash and injuries:

  • The self-driving system was defectively designed, resulting in flawed technology in all vehicles stemming from that design
  • The self-driving vehicle was improperly manufactured, so while the design was safe, the execution resulted in a defect
  • The company did not properly instruct consumers of the capabilities – or lack thereof – of the self-driving system, or failed to warn consumers of their responsibilities while in the vehicle or risks of accidents

Manufacturers want to get self-driving cars on the market as soon as possible, though they should do so as safely as possible. If the cause of the accident can be traced back to negligence on the part of a manufacturer, the company may be fully liable for injuries and losses from crashes.


Most self-driven cars still require someone to be in the driver’s seat. While technology can do a lot, it cannot account for every possible situation on the road. The role of the driver is to pay attention and take over control if needed to prevent an accident. Some people, however, have failed to do so.

For instance, investigators attributed two different Tesla crashes to drivers who failed to control the vehicle when necessary. If a driver allows a self-driving vehicle to crash because they were distracted or otherwise careless, that driver and their insurance company should be responsible for any harm and damage caused.

Consult with a Freehold, New Jersey Car Accident Attorney for Free

The above are only two examples of parties who may be liable for accidents involving self-driving cars. At Lomurro Law, we stay up-to-date on advancing technology when it comes to vehicles and transportation, as well as how that technology may play a role in personal injury cases. If you were injured in a crash, call our car accident lawyers in Freehold at 732-482-9285 or contact us online.