Liability in California Car Accidents Involving Autonomous Vehicles

California, and Silicon Valley in particular, has long been a hot-bed for technology, starting back in the 1970s with the development of semiconductors. In recent years, California has broadened its focus to all kinds of technological advancements. Perhaps one of the most anticipated technologies brewing in the state has been that of the driverless car.

Given the recent advancements in the technology, the day when driverless cars are a common sight on the road is not far away. When driverless cars do become common, there are going to be a host of legal issues that need to be resolved. For example, who is in charge – and thus, who is liable – in the event of an accident involving a driverless car?

In anticipation of the arrival of driverless cars, California lawmakers have started to wrestle with some of the issues the technology will present. According to a recent article, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is in the process of creating specific rules for driverless cars. The tension seems to be between fostering an innovative environment in which companies are encouraged to develop new products and the safety concerns presented by autonomous vehicles.

One of the major new developments is the removal of a requirement that a “back-up driver” be present when companies test their vehicles. Under the old law, companies needed to make sure that there was a human being in the car while it was being tested, in case something went wrong. However, under the new amendments, companies will be able to send cars out on the road without any operator inside, relying completely on the autonomous technology. However, in order for a company to test a vehicle on a public road, it needs to obtain a permit first.

Traditional Theories of Negligence in California Car Accidents

As noted above, the laws that determine who is liable in a California car accident may need to be adjusted once driverless cars are more common. General California negligence law allows for a car accident victim to file a personal injury case against anyone whom they believe violated a duty of care that was owed to them. Undoubtedly, this would include the manufacturers of autonomous cars in certain situations. However, the most recent amendments to the law remove some statements that attempted to clarify liability in certain circumstances. That being the case, it is likely that new guidelines are going to be developed, or, in the alternative, courts are going to need to come up with solutions to the issues as cases appear before them.

Have You Been Injured in a California Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of California car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated team of Southern California personal injury attorneys at Sharifi Firm has extensive experience handling a wide range of personal injury cases, including those involving cutting-edge technological and legal issues. We pride ourselves on keeping abreast of all relevant technologies, and we are prepared to aggressively represent our clients even in uncharted legal waters. Call 866-422-7222 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated California personal injury attorney to discuss your case today.

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