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Who Is Liable For A Self-Driving Car Accident In California?

Who To Sue In Autonomous Car Accidents In California

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to improve safety, but if they don't function properly, they also run the risk of causing car accidents and injuries. Just because a car is considered "self-driving" or "autonomous" doesn't mean there's no room for driver error, malfunctioning products, and other hazards.

That said, who is liable in a California self-driving car lawsuit? Is it the driver? The manufacturer? Someone else?


Let's look at what our California self-driving car accident lawyers have to say:


california self-driving accident attorney

Who Is Responsible If A Self-Driving Car Crashes In California?


As with most injury claims, there could be several responsible parties in a self-driving car lawsuit in California. However, what typically happens is as follows:

  • If a driver was inside the car and had the ability to stop the accident (i.e., by manually turning, steering, or stopping), then the driver is liable for the victim's injuries.

  • If the driver could not avoid the accident because of a defective product, parts, or design, the manufacturer (or anyone in the distribution chain) can be liable for any injuries.

Do note that anyone who had been negligent can be considered liable for an accident. For example, an establishment tasked with the maintenance of a self-driving car can also be held responsible in the event of a faulty car part.

Things can get complicated, so you want to hire a California self-driving accident attorney to properly assess your claim and name all possible liable parties.


california self-driving car accident lawyer

Why Do Self-Driving Cars Crash?


One of the ways an experienced California self-driving car accident lawyer identifies a potential defendant in a driverless car accident lawsuit is to find out the cause of the crash. This would make it easier for you and your attorney to list all the parties who should compensate you for your injuries.

The following are some of the most frequent risks that could result in accidents involving autonomous vehicles:

1. The Car Fails To Identify Obstacles

Autonomous vehicle technology employs a range of sensors to identify obstructions, stop signs, weather conditions, road conditions, and the speed and direction of other cars. However, hazardous weather, excessive traffic, deteriorated road signs, or damaged vehicle tags prevent the auto sensors from functioning correctly.

Unfortunately, these cars cannot perform as well as they should. Hence, California autonomous vehicle law is very wary of the term "autopilot" and still prefers a human driver to ensure complete safety.

2. AI/Machine Learning Problems

Because automated vehicle technologies are still in their relative infancy, cars can still not respond appropriately when faced with an unforeseen event.


Remember, it isn't impossible to get into a self-driving car accident in California, even with the fast improvements in AI tech.

3. Defective Design And Manufacturing Problems

If not properly inspected and monitored, something can go wrong in the parts manufacturing, assembly, product design, and the creation of product manuals and tutorials. Your California self-driving car accident lawyer will go through the chain of distribution to correctly identify negligent parties.


4. Driver Negligence


As mentioned, self-driving cars aren't perfect. As a result, there could be unexpected scenarios that humans are the only ones who can adequately discern and react to. So, accidents occur if a self-driving car fails and the driver is also distracted or reckless.


Problems Claiming Insurance With Self-Driving Car Accident In California


Autonomous car insurance problems are going to get complicated. Typically, insurance liability is paid to safeguard a person in the event of a car accident. What would happen, though, if the car had caused the accident instead of the driver? Liability would therefore be a problem.

Liability issues might arise if self-driving cars become widely used. If the original manufacturer of the vehicle were found to be at blame, there might be a price increase for cars as well as a complicated change in how end-user insurance operates.

Self-Driving Car Vs. Regular Car Accident Claims In California


The damages, or the money you'll get from settling or winning a lawsuit, are calculated similarly in either scenario. In both cases, you'll receive economic and non-economic damages, as well as (potentially) punitive damages for egregious circumstances.


Regarding liability, the principle is the same: parties who breached their duty of care will be responsible for the victim's compensation. Where they truly differ is the added complications driverless car accidents can bring to the claim.


california self driving car lawsuit


1000Attorneys is one of the few lawyer referral agencies certified by the California State Bar. We only give referrals to prescreened California self-driving accident attorneys, so you know you're getting referred to trusted, experienced, and fitting lawyers.

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