Who Is Liable for a Self-Driving Car Accident?

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The vision for self-driving cars was always to make the roads safer by eliminating human error. No car, however, can guarantee zero accidents. When a self-driving or autonomous vehicle does crash, who is liable for paying the bills? These types of accidents result in tricky claims that may require help from attorneys.

Nebraska’s Liability Laws

Before you can determine liability for a self-driving car accident, you need to understand the general liability law for car accidents in Nebraska. Nebraska is a fault state, which means the party to blame for causing a car accident will be who has to pay for victims’ injuries and losses. Nebraska also uses a modified comparative negligence law. Under this law, if the filing party (plaintiff) is more than 50% at fault, he or she cannot collect damages from the other driver. In a typical car accident case, the at-fault driver will be liable.

Self-Driving Car Accidents vs. Ordinary Accidents

The rules for a self-driving car accident, however, are different. Since one of the vehicles is partially or fully autonomous, the crash may not involve two drivers. Instead, the liability case may come down to one driver vs. the self-driving vehicle’s autonomous technology manufacturer. While liability will still go to the person or party most responsible for causing the collision, this could be various parties depending on the case.

  • Vehicle owner/operator. Even self-driving cars require at least some input or supervision from human operators. If the human inside the vehicle made a mistake that contributed to the crash, such as ignoring the car’s warning to take control of the wheel, the driver could be liable for damages.
  • Vehicle manufacturer. The company in charge of designing or manufacturing the self-driving car could bear liability for a crash if the vehicle contained a defect. If the design or assembly of the autonomous vehicle puts the user at an unreasonable risk of injury, for example, the manufacturer could be responsible for related incidents.
  • Technology or software company. Self-driving cars use advanced technologies that are relatively new to the road. A malfunction of the vehicle’s software in transit could lead to a system failure and related collision, such as the car failing to detect an obstacle and apply the brakes. The company responsible for creating the software could be liable for this accident.

Third parties could also be liable for self-driving car accidents, such as the City of Omaha for a dangerous pothole or road defect. Some cases involve shared liability among multiple parties. You may need a car accident attorney in Omaha to help you determine liability for your self-driving car accident. These crashes are complicated and can point to the fault of many different individuals and companies. A lawyer can help you pursue fair damages from the correct defendant.

What to Do After a Self-Driving Car Accident

If you collide with a vehicle while it is using full or partial automation technology, call the police to file a report. The police can help you gather key information, such as the name of the other driver and his or her insurance information. Take photographs of both vehicles and the crash scene. Go to a hospital in Omaha immediately for a checkup. When it is time to file an insurance claim, call your own insurance provider for the initial report. Then, contact a lawyer.

Self-driving car accident claims are difficult to litigate. They involve complex liability laws that other crash claims do not. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the vehicle’s manufacturer, for example, instead of just the driver, for a preventable self-driving car accident. Explore Nebraska’s tort laws and your rights as an injured victim with help from a car accident lawyer. Hiring a lawyer will make sure you protect your rights during a claim.