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Who Is Responsible After a Self Driving Car Accident?

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Today, nearly every car manufacturer has their eye on becoming the first company to have driverless cars on the road. In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles has approved 52 different car companies to begin testing self driving vehicles. Some of these companies include Apple, Tesla, Ford, Honda and BMW.

The technology is still new and going through testing. Yet, manufacturers believe that driverless cars are a certainty for the future. In fact, many of the top automakers estimate that self driving cars will be on the road by 2020. To do this, driverless cars must go through numerous road safety tests.

For example, in April 2019, the California DMV issued permits for driverless testing and deployment permits for autonomous vehicles. This testing includes simulations, miles driving with a safety driver and testing on tracks.

Uber has opened multiple testing cities to begin evaluating its driverless cars. However, the company stopped testing when one of their driverless cars hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.


Human error is the cause of the majority of car accidents in the United States. However, what happens when you remove the “human” component? Safety experts believe that using driverless cars could save thousands of lives every year. Yet, the technology is still far from perfect. So, what happens when a driverless car gets into an accident?

When an accident involves a driverless car, you may be able to file a product liability case, instead of the typical accident claim. Determining liability after a self driving car accident depends on many factors, including:

  • Whether the vehicle was fully automated
  • Who was responsible for driving control
  • Ownership of the vehicle
  • If performance standards were met
  • If safety testing was performed properly
  • Whether the vehicle was properly assembled
  • If a defect or malfunction was responsible

For partially autonomous cars, there is still an element of human control, meaning that a driver is at least partially responsible for the operation of the vehicle. Assigning liability in these cases depends on what caused the accident. If the driver’s decision caused the crash, then he or she is responsible for the accident and the injuries suffered. If the car malfunctioned or there was a defect, then liability could lie with the manufacturer.

For completely driverless cars, multiple parties may share the blame, including:

  • The manufacturer
  • The service center
  • The vehicle owner
  • Other drivers

As driverless cars become the future, the laws regarding liability will likely change. An experienced self driving car accident attorney can provide you with the latest legal information. He or she can also help you determine the best legal action for your case.


If you suffered an injury in a car accident, then a Nashville car accident lawyer can help. If your accident involved a self driving car, then this may make the legal process more complex.

At the Law Office of Stanley A. Davis, we know that you will have questions after a self driving car accident. This is why we offer a free initial consultation for all of our prospective clients. Call us today at (615) 866-3938 or fill out our confidential contact form for more information.

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