Who Is Liable If You Are Hit By A Self-Driving Car While Walking Across The Street?

As autonomous taxis, cars, buses, trucks, and airport shuttle vans hit the roads, more accidents with autonomous vehicles (AVs) will happen. Self-driving car makers say their cars will get in significantly fewer accidents than human-driven cars. 

So if a self-driving car hits you at a crosswalk, will you be able to prove the car is at fault? While awaiting the outcome of the first lawsuit involving a self-driving car and a pedestrian death, filed against Tesla in April in a California court, the responses of self driving car makers to personal injury lawsuits have been mixed. 

Self-Driving Car Manufacturer Lawsuits 

AV manufacturers have generally not been accepting liability, but many are paying out private settlements nonetheless. General Motors chose to settle a lawsuit when its AV veered between lanes and injured a motorcyclist. Uber also chose to settle when in 2018 a Volvo SUV hit an Arizona woman crossing the street with her bicycle. 

Volvo responded by stating that it will accept full liability for any accidents involving its AVs, resolving human operators of any future responsibility. In cases involving Tesla, on the other hand, the electric car maker has successfully argued that the driver was at fault

What To Do If You Are Hit By a Self-Driving Car

If you are hit by a self-driving car, contact a personal injury attorney. This new area of auto accident litigation is complicated by the fact that the technology is also evolving, as vehicles put on the road move to higher levels of autonomy. The first steps to filing a personal injury lawsuit will involve:

Determining liability – Determining who is liable for the action can be complicated. Of the five levels of driver automation (Level 1: 100 percent driver handled to Level 5: 100 percent AV handled), in levels 1–3, either the driver, AV, or both could share liability. Other potential liable parties could include cyber attacks and incorrect remote traffic light signals. 

Filing a personal injury claim – Your personal injury lawyer will need to prove the driver breached their duty of care.

Launching a bodily harm suit – If the driver has bodily injury insurance, you can also make a claim for medical coverage and related expenses against their insurance. 

Negotiating a settlement – Alternatively, your personal injury lawyer could negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the manufacturer. These AV confidential settlements are becoming increasingly common.

Keep in mind that the injured person could also be found wholly or partly responsible for the accident. If you are found partly liable, your compensation would be reduced by your share of liability.