About Autonomous Vehicle Accidents
In 2016, people drove more than 261 billion miles across Texas highways. This mind-boggling number has grown in recent years, but along with it, the number of people injured in car accidents in our state has grown as well. With the rise of autonomous vehicles, many hope the number of accidents and injuries will decrease. But when an automated vehicle is involved in a crash, who is responsible? The attorneys of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. have the expertise in personal injury cases to handle even complex cases involving autonomous vehicle accidents.
What Is Texas Law?
As of 2017, Texas is one of 21 states that have passed legislation regarding autonomous vehicles. However, Texas law goes further than many other states, including provisions for autonomous cars to function without human operators in the vehicles if the cars meet certain conditions.
When a human is in the vehicle, the car may alert the driver to take over operation of the vehicle due to conditions outside the car’s ability to function. This means an autonomous vehicle involved in an accident may or may not be under the driver’s control. Liability in these cases can be complex and difficult to establish.
How Safe Are Autonomous Vehicles?
One of the advantages touted by makers of autonomous vehicles is improved safety. Autonomous vehicles don’t get distracted, don’t send text messages while driving, and are never guilty of driving while intoxicated. However, autonomous vehicles don’t always recognize dangerous situations or respond well to unpredictable behavior from other drivers.
On March 18, 2018, an autonomous car with a human operator struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. This is the first fatal accident involving an autonomous vehicle. The investigation into its cause is ongoing.
In 2016, there was an accident involving a truck colliding with an autonomous vehicle that had a driver behind the wheel. There were no fatalities, and the investigation revealed that the autonomous system was not at fault in the accident.
Who Is Liable for Autonomous Vehicle Accidents?
An autonomous vehicle in Texas may be fully autonomous, meaning it could drive itself without a human in the vehicle, or it may be partly autonomous with a human operator behind the wheel ready to take over the driving if the automated system requests intervention.
The state law that went into effect in September 2017 clarifies who is responsible when an autonomous vehicle is in an accident. When the autonomous system is engaged, the owner of the vehicle is still the operator of the vehicle and responsible for the vehicle’s compliance with all driving laws, regardless of whether the owner is in the vehicle or not.
If the driver of the vehicle takes over for the automated system, then the driver is responsible for the operation of the vehicle as in any other car.
Autonomous Vehicle Accidents Require Legal Expertise
Because autonomous vehicles are new and the laws regarding their use and liability continue to evolve, you need an attorney with specialized expertise if an accident with an automated vehicle injures you. The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., is one of only 2% of Texas attorneys certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Their experience in personal injury and car accident cases is required to handle a case with the legal complexities of this type. Call the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., today to schedule your free consultation and get the help you need after your accident.