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Self-Driving Car Accidents in Texas: Who's Responsible?

Have you been involved in a self-driving car crash and don’t who is responsible? 

The number of vehicles that have the ability to activate auto drive are rapidly rising. This has caused the Texas State Senate to develop and publish safety standards for self-driving cars hoping to reduce the number of accidents associated with self-driving cars. This was forced to happen as self-driving vehicles are involved in double the number of accidents per mile driven as traditional vehicles.  

The Rise of Self-Driving Cars in the Lone Star State 

Not only are vehicles equipped with auto driving technology on the rise nationwide, Google has been testing their self-driving cars in Austin, Texas. Due to the uptick of auto driving cars, the Texas Senate implemented a bill that mandates vehicles with auto driving technology to comply with national traffic codes, requiring self-driving cars be equipped with data-recording equipment systems to stop and notify the appropriate authorities after the vehicle is involved in any accident or crash. 

Liability in Self-Driving Car Accidents 

There are multiple things to take into account when deciding who is at fault in a self-driving car accident. Determining responsibility for accidents involving driverless cars is complex due to the evolving technology and multiple factors that may implicate several parties. 

Some of the parties who could be held liable:

  • The manufacturer or developer of the hardware:
    • If the accident is caused by a malfunction in the physical components of the self-driving car (faulty braking system, defective sensors)
  • The technology supplier who developed the software:
    • The software is the brain of the self-driving car. It could be anything from a software bug, a coding error, or inadequate programming that leads to the accident.
  • The human driver:
    • Some self-driving cars have features that allow for human intervention in certain situations. If the human driver fails to take control when necessary or acts negligently while behind the wheel (distracted driving, intoxication), they could share some liability.
  • The owner of the vehicle:
    • In some cases, the car owner might be responsible for ensuring proper maintenance of the self-driving car. If a lack of maintenance contributes to the accident (outdated software not updated due to owner negligence), the owner might share some fault.
  • Other potentially liable parties:
    • Depending on the specific circumstances, other parties could also be involved. For instance, a faulty traffic light maintained by the city, or a poorly maintained road could contribute to the accident and lead to shared liability.

In order to determine liability, contact law enforcement immediately following the accident, gather information from the scene such as photos, videos, and dash cam footage. Collect contact information from witnesses, identify the level of automation, check for recalls or defects, and consult legal professionals. 

Texas Laws and Self-Driving Car Accidents  

Self-driving cars have been allowed on Texas roadways since 2017. While there are still many unresolved questions surrounding liability and responsibility, the basic laws still need to be followed. 

Texas Transportation Code requires all drivers to carry liability insurance that covers bodily injury or death, as well as damages to other vehicles or property. A self-driving vehicle must also undergo licensing, registering, and inspection, just like regular cars. 

What to Do After a Self-Driving Car Accident 

If you are involved in an accident with a self-driving car, you should first contact law enforcement and request medical assistance as needed. Gather as much information as you can. Take pictures of all vehicles involved, the road conditions and any signs that could be related to the accident. Gather contact information from anyone that witnessed the accident. Preserve evidence such as data from the vehicle's sensors, camera, and any logs are maintained. Verify the self-driving vehicle does not have any defects or recalls if able and ensure its software is up to date. 

Why You Need a San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer 

As technology progresses, the legal framework concerning autonomous vehicles evolves. Legal advocates expect to see court cases shaping the legal landscape surrounding self-driving vehicles. 

At Falcon Law Group, PLLC, we are committed to guiding you through the intricate legal aspects of self-driving car accidents, placing your well-being as our top priority and ensuring adequate compensation for any injuries, damages, or losses you may have suffered. 

We provide personalized guidance, steadfast support, and tailored legal representation to meet your unique needs. We have a history of representing clients in emerging legal fields and are fully prepared to handle cases related to accidents involving self-driving cars. 

Contact Falcon Law Group to schedule your free case evaluation today!

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