Self-Driving Car Accidents: Who Can Be Held Liable?

Self-driving cars seem like a dream. Could they be the end of road rage and cases of driving under the influence or distracted driving? Possibly. And imagine being driven to your destination without having to lift a finger! Talk about luxury.

[image: pexels]

Of course, everything is great until it’s not, like in the case of a collision. So, who’s really to blame when a self-driving car gets in an accident?

1. Driver Negligence

In a majority of general car accidents, a human is to blame, not the vehicle itself. And, often, negligence of the driver is the root case. Negligence may involve texting while driving, speeding, running red lights, and so on. But what you may not know is that driving negligence is still possible with self-driving vehicles.

For instance, self-driving vehicles can be put in manual drive mode, and if the human behind the wheel is driving negligently, they can be held liable for an accident they’re involved in.

Secondly, even if the vehicle is in self-drive mode, a driver can act negligently if they rely too much on the vehicle’s capabilities or are distracted while the car is driving itself. For example, if someone isn’t paying attention to the road while their car is driving, like, by taking a nap, this is considered negligence as they aren’t available to override the self-drive mode if there’s an error.

2. Vehicle Defects

Self-driving cars have been around for some time, but it’s still early. That said, they may be at risk of having defects. Not to mention, even non-self-driving vehicles can experience defects or recalls.

In the event that a self-driving vehicle is involved in an accident, if a defect is to blame, then the driver of that vehicle wouldn’t necessarily be held liable. However, if the defect has nothing to do with the nature of the accident, then the driver may still very well be liable, that is, unless it can be proven that the other driver was at fault.

3. State/City Laws & Manufacturer Policies

Liability of a car accident involving a self-driving vehicle also depends on state laws and the policies set by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Yes, it’s true!

Some situations that may take the liability of an accident off the self-driving car owner may include an unmarked pothole in the road, if the state has a law making the manufacturer liable if an injury or death results from a self-driving car accident, or if the manufacturer has a policy that they will cover damages, say, if the vehicle flips onto its roof or side.

Were you involved in a self-driving car accident? Contact a Lehi car accident lawyer right away.


Self-driving cars are perhaps one of the greatest inventions thus far. They may be a great option for those with disabilities, help prevent drunk driving incidents, and generally create a convenience. On the flipside, there’s a debate regarding who should be held liable if a self-driving vehicle is involved in a collision.

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