In Car Accidents, Catastrophic Personal Injury, Vehicle Wrecks

Self-driving cars are starting to hit the roads in Texas, and their numbers will only increase. While many people argue that autonomous vehicles will improve road safety, they will not eliminate car accidents. In fact, when a self-driving car accident occurs, you might face complicated insurance claims and a higher likelihood of litigation. Below, we explain how to protect yourself after a self-driving car accident. 

Self-Driving Cars Are Already on Our Roads

While it seemed unlikely a decade ago, self-driving cars are now a reality. At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), almost every major auto manufacturer announced new self-driving vehicles. Lyft, the popular ride sharing app, used self-driving cars to transport CES attendees, and Pizza Hut displayed self-driving pizza delivery vans. More importantly, GM announced that it hopes to launch up to 2,600 self-driving vehicles in the United States in 2019. These vehicles would be fully autonomous and lack common driver systems like a steering wheel, brakes, and gas pedal. 

In response to these advances, the federal government is beginning to regulate autonomous vehicles. The U.S. House of Representatives already passed the AV START Act with bipartisan support, and the Senate is expected to pass its version in 2018. The AV START Act, if passed, will: 

  • Permit auto manufacturers to request exemptions from existing federal safety requirements, such as the presence of a steering wheel 
  • Allow a staged introduction of self-driving vehicles into the U.S. market: 15,000 in year one and up to 80,000 in year three 
  • Empower the NHTSA to issue self-driving car rules within 10 years 

However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the safety of self-driving cars. 

Self-Driving Cars Won’t Eliminate Vehicle Accidents 

Data suggests that self-driving cars might make Texas roads safer. Human error causes the vast majority of car and truck accidents. Imagine a San Antonio where all the vehicles on your morning commute followed our traffic laws: maintaining appropriate speeds, following at a safe distance, and merging correctly.


“Data suggests that self-driving cars might make Texas roads safer. Human error causes the vast majority of car and truck accidents.”


And, if designed and operated properly, self-driving cars might improve a large number of Americans’ mobility. For example, disabled and elderly people would no longer have to rely on public transportation, taxi services, or loved ones for travel. 

However, self-driving cars aren’t perfect (and never will be). They have been involved in accidents, ranging from mild fender benders to fatal collisions. Since 2014, California has tracked all car accidents involving autonomous vehicles in the state. As of January 2018, car manufacturers reported 52 self-driving car accidents. The majority of these car accidents involved a level of human error. Other times, the vehicle malfunctioned or had flawed systems. 

In 2016, a Florida man was killed when his Tesla struck a truck while operating in Auto Pilot mode. Tesla markets Auto Pilot as a “driver assist” feature that does not fully operate the vehicle. Instead, Auto Pilot assists with steering and uses an adaptive cruise control system (where the vehicle will slow down if it approaches another vehicle). Although the man’s Tesla repeatedly warned him to take control of his car, he disregarded these warnings and crashed. 

In Texas, there has already been at least one car accident involving a self-driving car. On August 7, 2016, a man was operating his Tesla in Auto Pilot mode. He reached over to open his glove box and the car missed a curve, repeatedly crashing into a guard rail. He suffered a bloodied nose and other injuries. 

Protect Yourself After a Self-Driving Car Accident 

If you were injured in a self-driving car accident, it’s important that you document the incident. You should: 

  • Call 911 and file a police report. 
  • Seek immediate medical treatment. 
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers. 
  • Take pictures of the vehicles and the accident scene. 
  • Note the make and model of the self-driving car. 
  • Identify witnesses and get their contact information. 
  • Request any on-board computer data from the self-driving car. 
  • Contact an experienced San Antonio car accident lawyer. 
  • File claims with the appropriate insurance companies. 

Self-driving car claims will be complicated. Many will involve multiple negligent parties, including drivers and the self-driving car manufacturer. And, unlike most traditional cars, self-driving vehicle accident claims might involve a detailed analysis of on-board data, software systems, technical data, and product liability law.


“Self-driving car claims will be complicated. Many will involve multiple negligent parties, including drivers and the self-driving car manufacturer.”


Crosley Law Firm: Fighting for Car Accident Victims in San Antonio and Throughout Texas 

At Crosley Law Firm, we embrace the use of technology — but also recognize its risks. If you or a loved one has been injured by a self-driving car, you need a law firm that not only understands car accident litigation, but is also capable of analyzing complicated technical data and explaining it to a jury. 

Our team of personal injury lawyers uses cutting-edge technology, including accident reconstruction software, black box analyses, and trial presentation tools. If you would like to learn more about our approach to car accident litigation, contact us for a free consultation. You can easily connect with us by completing our online form or calling 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000. 

References 

Etherington, D. (2018, January 11). GM and Cruise reveal their fourth-generation, steering wheel-free Cruise AV. Techcruch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/11/gm-and-cruise-reveal-their-fourth-generation-steering-wheel-free-cruise-av/. 

Goodwin, A. (2018, January 11). The road to autonomy now has a carpool lane: CES 2018 wrap-up. CNET. Retrieved from https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/the-road-to-autonomy-now-has-a-carpool-lane-ces-2018-wrap-up/ – ftag=CAD-09-10aai5b. 

Hull, D. (2016, August 19). Texas man in Tesla Autopilot crash won’t sue, but car insurer may. Insurance Journal. Retrieved from https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2016/08/19/423918.htm. 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

 

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