Houston Autonomous/Self-Driving Vehicle Accident Lawyer
At Attorney Tom, we have always been at the forefront of protecting victims’ rights when it comes to car accident cases, and that won’t change. If you’ve been hurt in an accident with a driverless car, you probably don’t know where to turn. You can turn to the experienced legal team at Attorney Tom. Call us at (713) 244-6363 for a free consultation and to review the details of your case.
Only a few years ago, self-driving cars seemed like something you’d only find in a science fiction movie. It may be hard to believe, but that future is almost here on the streets of Houston.
While a number of recognizable companies have been working on self-driving car technology for years, the next wave of autonomous vehicles just received federal approval to be deployed throughout Houston, according to a recent article from Chron.
These vehicles aim to make grocery shopping a breeze by delivering goods straight to your home without the need for a human driver. As technology begins to flood our streets, you have to begin to wonder at what cost? When a driverless car causes an accident or hits a pedestrian, who is to blame and who is responsible for compensating the injured victim?
We are on the horizon of a new and exciting time when it comes to advances in technology. However, we can’t forget that technology has its limitations. Victims of serious accidents caused by technology or self-driving cars are still entitled to compensation in order to cover expenses like medical bills. The question of who is at fault and who has to pay is still a somewhat new and grey area. If you have been injured in an accident with a self-driving car, contact the Houston autonomous vehicle accident attorneys with Attorney Tom for a free consultation.
What is a Self-Driving or a Driverless Car, Exactly?
You may be doomed to become a backseat driver soon, as driverless cars are poised to sweep through the country. Uber, Volvo, Google, Apple, Tesla—these are some of the big names working on driverless car technology right now.
What exactly are driverless cars and how do they work? A self-driving car, also known as an autonomous vehicle, is a car that does not require a human driver to function. It can sense its own environment and operate on the roads without any type of human involvement. These cars have cameras that are supposed to track objects around it, then the car “reacts” to those objects. It may sound simple, but driving is complicated. It’s not just about traffic laws and the “rules of the road.” Drivers constantly have to make judgment calls, react to changing weather or road conditions, or adjust due to construction conditions. There are no rules to govern those behaviors.
Despite the difficulties, companies have forged ahead in making driverless cars their new pet project, testing them on our roadways. The technology has come a long way, but has it come far enough? Are there risk factors for the public?
How Do Driverless Vehicle Accidents Happen?
A recent survey conducted in California on autonomous vehicle crashes has found that the majority of accidents are not caused by the technology itself. It found that 81 of 88 accidents where self-driving cars were involved happened as a result of human error.
The National Transportation Safety Board was involved in investigating the first death caused by a self-driving car in Arizona. The high-profile case involved a jaywalking pedestrian hit by a driverless test vehicle. The vehicle did not recognize the jaywalking pedestrian and couldn’t determine if the woman was a bicycle, a person, or something else entirely. The NTSB’s investigation found that several human errors were to blame, including the actions of the human inside the car who was supposed to be monitoring the road at the time.
The investigation also concludes that this type of accident was likely to happen again. Articles from tech publications are swift to point out that more oversight and safety protocols are needed in order to make sure people are protected from harm.
In addition to human error, accidents can also be caused by changes in the weather and traffic laws or shifts in traffic patterns. These are elements that technology has not been able to adequately account for yet, and could conceivably contribute to safety issues.
Who is Liable for A Self-Driving Car Accident?
Here is the big question. If you’ve been injured in a self-driving car accident, who can be held liable? Current auto liability laws have not caught up to the speed at which technology moves, so it can be difficult to determine who is at fault when a self-driving car is involved in an accident.
In a normal car accident situation, the blame falls on one or both of the drivers, but how do you blame a “robot?” Is it the fault of the human watchdog who is supposed to be monitoring the technology inside the car? Is it the fault of the manufacturer? We find ourselves in a somewhat grey area with few court precedents to work from.
In the case of the Arizona woman killed by the self-driving car, Uber and a micro-chip developer settled with the family out of court. That means that the companies who could have potentially been held liable avoid judgment going against them. That makes it hard to establish legal precedent for who is at fault for these types of accidents.
Another challenge to the question of liability is the complex technology used to run these cars. You have a manufacturer making the vehicle itself and potentially dozens of other companies supplying both the hardware and the software to run the vehicle. Not to mention the humans who are involved in testing and monitoring the use of the car itself.
Another problem with liability is the lack of safety regulations imposed at the federal level. There is currently no uniform legislation governing the safety and deployment of these vehicles. It has been up to states to pass their own standards and that leaves questions of liability hazy at best. While Texas legislation has paved the way for self-driving cars to hit the roads, there are still legal questions as to the safety and liability of these vehicles.
What Do I Do If I’ve Been Involved in an Accident with a Self-Driving Car?
This is completely new territory for insurance companies, manufacturers, and state governments. Your best option when you’ve been involved in an accident with a self-driving car is to retain legal representation. A lawyer can review the details of your case and determine the best course of action for your situation. Investigating the circumstances of the accident will give an attorney a more complete picture of how the accident happened and who can be held liable for compensation.
It is also a good idea to retain legal counsel because an experienced attorney will be able to request records, documents, and even video footage from inside the driverless car, if it exists. There may even be a type of data recorder from the vehicle which can shed more light on how the accident happened and who was at fault.
Without an attorney, it can be very hard to secure this type of evidence and information from a large tech company or car manufacturer. Data can be lost or destroyed if not properly requested to be turned over.
As in any type of car accident case, it is necessary to prove fault. Proving fault is turning out to be much more complicated and difficult when it comes to self-driving cars seriously injuring or killing humans. It means exposing a defect, a fault in the design or development of the car or technology, or human error. A seasoned attorney will have the resources needed to pursue a complex case against a driverless car company or their partners.
How Can Attorney Tom Help Me?
Driverless cars are the wave of the future. In Houston, they will be delivering our groceries in the not too distant future. Before you know it, they will be all over our local roads in full force. Who pays for the accidents, injuries, or even deaths that these cars can cause? We are at the forefront of helping victims answer that very question. You shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for huge medical expenses because no one has been able to figure out who to hold responsible for your accident.
Attorney Tom is a firm with attorneys who are experienced in dealing with car accident cases. We recognize that technology is going to continue to be increasingly prominent in our everyday lives. Those who profit off technology can’t be absolved from responsibility when that technology hurts someone. We have a track record of aggressively protecting victims’ rights and getting them the fair compensation they deserve following a serious accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a self-driving car accident, you may be confused as to where to go for help. Start with a call to our office at (713) 244-6363 to set up a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident.