Accident Attorney Considers Legal Questions Raised by Self Driving Cars

San Francisco Auto Accident Lawyer Discusses Ethics and Who’s At Fault in Self-Driving Car Scenario


Multiple manufacturers, including Tesla, Mercedes and Apple, are preparing to release self-driving cars in the next few years. Telsa’s ambitious parallel proposal to transform the industry and stoke a revolution in electric vehicles also promises to reshape how Americans relate to their automobiles.

Although the unveiling of self-driving vehicles potentially offers numerous benefits for drivers and pedestrians, this shift also raises important legal questions for accident lawyers.

Current Law about Self-Driving Cars and Liability in Accidents

As of late 2015, autonomous vehicles can be tested only in the states of Florida, Nevada and California, and only drivers with specialized training are permitted to operate them.

However, experts predict that these laws will soon change and evolve. When these vehicles hit the market en mass, drivers without special training will likely be able to operate them. As they become more popular, accidents involving these self-driving vehicles are sure to increase as well. A Brave New World of liability law may soon follow.

Unanswered Legal Questions

With regard to autonomous vehicles, some of the questions an auto accident attorney must consider include:

  • Can a car legally operate without a human driver?
  • How will autonomous vehicles be “questioned” by police and investigators?
  • Can recorded driving data be trusted?
  • Will drivers or manufacturers be held responsible for accidents?

The answers to these questions are not yet clear. However, debate is already raging. For instance, see this provocative piece looking at the ethical dilemma raised by the situation in which a person walks in front of a self-driving car going too fast to stop in time: Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill

Need Insight on your Accident from a Bay Area Auto Accident Lawyer?

Even if your Bay Area auto accident seemed relatively simple and straightforward, you can never tell when a defendant might behave irrationally or when an insurance company may deny a very reasonable and evidence-based claim. The San Francisco personal injury lawyers at Vega Law have the experience, knowledge of the system and compassion to address your needs strategically. Call us now for a free consultation.