Self-driving cars are an emerging technology that promises to revolutionize how we get around by reducing the number of accidents caused by human error. However, with new technology comes new legal issues. One of the most important questions that must be addressed is whose fault it is if a self-driving car hits a pedestrian.
The question of fault in a situation where a self-driving car accident involving a pedestrian can be complex and may depend on numerous factors, including the specific circumstances of the incident, as well as the technology and programming of the self-driving car.
An experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney who is familiar with the laws and regulations regarding autonomous cars may be important to contact to understand the potential legal and financial implications fully, especially in the event of serious pedestrian accident injuries.
Which Parties Can Be At-Fault in Self-driving Car Accident?
Pennsylvania law requires all drivers, including those of self-driving cars, to exercise reasonable care when operating a vehicle. This means that a driver must act in a way that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances, such as slowing down and driving carefully in heavy pedestrian areas. Therefore, if a self-driving car hits a pedestrian, the question is whether the car’s actions were reasonable.
In general, potential parties that could be considered at fault in such a situation may include the following:
- The owner or operator of the self-driving car: If the accident is caused by negligent maintenance, failure to update software, or improper use of the self-driving car by the owner or operator, they may be held liable.
- The manufacturer of the self-driving car: If the pedestrian-vehicle accident is caused by a defect in the design or manufacturing of the self-driving car, the manufacturer may be held liable for the resulting injuries.
- The software developer: If the accident is caused by a glitch or programming error in the self-driving car’s autonomous system, the developer may be liable.
- The pedestrian: If the pedestrian behaved negligently, such as crossing the road outside of a crosswalk or ignoring traffic signals, they may be partially or wholly at fault for the pedestrian car accident.
Are Self-Driving Cars Safer than Traditional Motor Vehicles?
One of the main advantages of self-driving cars is that they use a variety of sensors and cameras to detect obstacles and adjust their speed and trajectory accordingly. However, these sensors are not perfect. They may not detect a pedestrian in certain circumstances, such as when the pedestrian is obscured by a large object or wearing dark clothing at night.
In such cases, the question is whether the self-driving car’s sensors were defective or whether the pedestrian was at fault. If the sensors were defective, the manufacturer of the self-driving car may be liable for the accident under product liability law. On the other hand, if the pedestrian was at fault, the self-driving car’s manufacturer may not be held liable.
How to Determine Fault in a Pedestrian Motor Vehicle Accident
Determining fault can be complicated, and it may require a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the accident. In some cases, it may be necessary to hire an expert witness to testify about the technology involved in the accident.
Furthermore, Pennsylvania law recognizes the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means that the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them. For example, if a pedestrian was 20% at fault for an accident, they would only be able to recover 80% of their damages.
The question of whose fault it is if a self-driving car hits a pedestrian is a complex one that requires a careful analysis of the circumstances of the accident and is sure to change as more autonomous vehicles hit the road. While self-driving cars have the potential to reduce the number of accidents caused by human error, they are not infallible, and accidents can still occur.
Need Legal Help? Contact Our Accident Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a self-driving car, it may be necessary to speak with a personal injury lawyer who can help you seek full and fair compensation.
At the Law Offices of Samuel Fishman, we aim to help our clients navigate the legal complexities of self-driving car accidents and hold negligent drivers and manufacturers accountable. Schedule a free case consultation today by filling out our contact form online or by calling us at 215-883-8213.