Self-driving cars represent incredible innovations in technological progress. One day, they may become familiar sights on Maryland roads. For now, their ownership and appeal are somewhat limited. Worries exist about the dangers of these vehicles, and several publicized accidents make many unwilling to purchase one. Some do put faith in the models, but a question remains. If a self-driving car does cause an accident, who is held responsible?
Self-driving vehicles and questions about negligence
A self-driving car does not enter public roads unless someone directs the action. So, anyone responsible for the vehicle’s operation could face negligence claims if the vehicle causes an accident. For example, a “gig economy” food delivery service might own a fleet of self-driving cars. The vehicle may operate without human assistance, but a “driver” in the car could stand by to deliver food and take control of the car if something goes wrong.
When the driver chooses not to pay attention and opts to watch a video on a multimedia screen, that driver appears derelict in his or her duty. So, if someone walks in front of the vehicle and it doesn’t stop, the driver may face a negligence claim. So might the gig service for any contributory negligence, such as not screening a driver’s past moving violations or using a self-driving car with known problems.
Other matters of negligence
A manufacturer could also face liability charges if the self-driving model has any defects. Even the state of Maryland runs the risk of a lawsuit for allowing untested models on public roads.
And yes, even victims may share some blame for motor vehicle accidents. An impaired pedestrian who crosses the street on red may be partially responsible for any injuries.
A personal injury attorney could review the case to determine at-fault defendants. The attorney may then file suit on behalf of a client.