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Who Is Liable In Accidents Involving Self-Driving Cars?

There's no doubt - automated cars are the future, and the future is here. Automated cars are cars with the ability to transport the driver without the need for manual input. The driver enters the vehicle, punches in where they want to go, and the car transports them there, without the need for the driver to touch the wheel.

While truly a miraculous invention, here at Levine and Wiss, we've been pondering over the potential ramifications of such a vehicle. The main question on our minds is: Who is held liable if the self-driving car is involved in an accident?

Before continuing it must be stated that this issue is largely uncharted territory. Automated cars have not been around long enough for lawmakers to all come to a consensus on the matter.

Now, the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy rates automated cars on a scale of 0 to 5; 0 involves full driver participation, 5 is full automation. Most self-driving cars on the market today are about a 3 on the scale.

It should be noted that anything less than 5 requires the driver to pay attention to their surroundings while the car is on autopilot, and be ready to take over should the need arise. Car manufacturers like Tesla make this clear to the driver.

With that said, when an automated vehicle is involved in an accident, the driver is held liable. Of course, there are many factors involved in determining culpability, such as the actions of the other drivers involved in the incident.

However, should the automated car's driver ever be deemed at fault, they are held liable, and blaming the autopilot feature is not an admissible defense. In short, they are fully responsible for the actions of their car's autopilot. Manufacturers will not be held liable for their products.

However, this can potentially change in the near future. Automated cars are the subject of many civil discourses. There are plans to introduce level 5 cars to the market on a massive scale, and soon. As previously stated, automated cars that rank a 5 on the FAVP scale are considered fully automated and require no human interaction.

Perhaps one day, lawmakers will determine car manufacturers are to be held fully liable for these automated cars, exempting the driver in the process.

Our New York auto accident lawyers stay up to date regarding the laws and we work hard to help injured individuals determine liability and seek the compensation they deserve. Call us today for a free consultation.