Questions Emerge About Liability in Self-Driving Car Crashes in California

Self-driving, or semi-autonomous, cars are becoming a reality in some states. Although proponents tout the technology as safe, recent incidents have raised concerns and brought up new questions concerning liability in the event of a California car accident. One question that often arises is who is at fault in a semi-autonomous car crash if, for example, the car fails to stop? Is it the driver who failed to stop or the designer or manufacturer whose system failed to stop? These cases present complicated issues, as crashes involving self-driving cars continue to occur in California and nationwide.

Investigation Finds Tesla Model X Sped Up Before California Crash

An investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found a Tesla Model X sped up just before it crashed earlier this year in Mountain View, California, according to a news report. The semi-autonomous car crashed into a barrier on U.S. Highway 101 back in March, killing the 38-year-old driver.

The report raises questions about the cars’ ability to operate safety, as well as the driver’s role in the crash. According to the report, the car sped up from 62 miles per hour to 70.8 miles per hour in the last three seconds before the crash. The driver was using the autopilot system for almost 19 minutes before the crash. His hands were only on the steering wheel for 34 seconds of the last sixty seconds before the crash, and he had programmed the car to drive at 75 miles per hour. However, according to the NTSB, the car’s system did not recognize his hands on the steering wheel for six seconds before the crash. The NTSB report was a preliminary report and did not come to a conclusion about what caused the crash.

Tesla stated that the driver did not take any action to avoid the crash in the five seconds before he hit the barrier. The company also stated that the autopilot feature makes accidents less likely to occur, despite that fact that some accidents have occurred. The driver’s family’s attorney said that the NTSB report appears to show that the car’s autopilot system failed because it should never had allowed the crash to occur. Tesla tells drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and to monitor the system. However, advocates point out that Tesla promotes its vehicles as having “full self-driving hardware” and an ad states that the car “is driving itself.” Advocates have pushed the company to implement systems to measure driver attentiveness.

Tesla has promoted the self-driving capabilities of the car, but this crash continues to raises questions about those capabilities. In several cases, the cars have failed to stop for stationary objects in the road. A pedestrian was killed in March in Arizona after a self-driving Uber Technologies Inc., car struck the pedestrian. In that case, the NTSB determined that the vehicle was not programmed to brake for obstructions. The NTSB is also investigating a fatal crash in Florida, in addition to others.

Seek Legal Guidance After a Crash

If you have been injured in a crash, seek legal guidance as soon as possible. At the Sharifi Firm, APC, our injury attorneys provide dedicated representation to Los Angeles residents who have been harmed due to the negligence of others. Our personal injury attorneys are determined to pursue the full compensation awards that our clients deserve, depending on their specific circumstances. We handle California car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, nursing home abuse, and wrongful death cases, among others. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

How Fault Is Apportioned in California Motorcycle Accidents, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, May 29, 2018

Court Discusses How Insurance Coverage Comes into Play When Calculating Damages in a California Personal Injury Lawsuit, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, May 19, 2018

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