Who’s Liable When an Autonomous Car Crashes?

With the rise of interest in self-driving cars, two questions commonly comes up – Are they actually safer, and who is liable if a self-driving car crashes?

In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Administration released a 6-level classification system for autonomous cars.  Level 0, the lowest level, means the automated system may issue warnings to the driver, but the driver is completely in control of the vehicle. Level 5, the highest level, means that no human interaction is required – the vehicle completely drives itself.

At anything lower than a level 3 autonomous vehicle, the level at which a driver can safely focus their attention on tasks other than driving, a driver is responsible since they clearly need to interact with the car in order to prevent accidents. At level 2, it is required that a driver keep their hands on the wheel and must be ready to intervene should something go amiss with the automated system.

Currently, laws have not been able to keep up with technology, and technology has not yet advanced to the stage where level four or level 5 autonomous cars can be on public roads.  It is expected that as cars move towards being more and more autonomous, eventually, liability will shift from the driver to the car/its manufacturer.  Autonomous cars in the future may even be programmed not to commit certain traffic offenses, such as speeding, traffic violations, etc. This would mean that autonomous cars might even be the safest option for vehicles in the future – as studies have shown, the vast majority of crashes occur because of human error.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country.