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Who is liable in an accident with a self-driven car?

You probably read about the unfortunate accident in Florida involving a self-driven car. This accident, while tragic, also raises issues of liability, fault, and legality. In an accident involving a self-driven car, who is at fault? Can you sue the car manufacturer for products liability if the onboard computer malfunctioned? What if the computer did everything correct, according to its programming, but that still resulted in an accident? This post will address these questions.

A self-driving car is more than cruise control, in fact, there are no true self-driven cars. Every "self-driven" car still needs a human driver to take control of the vehicle. The cars are still equipped with pedals and wheels, tools that would be unnecessary in a 100 percent computer-driven vehicle.

But, for these purposes, a self-driven car is any vehicle that utilizes onboard artificial intelligence (or "AI") to direct some of the cars functions. It could be lane assistance, parking assistance or some limited form of driving.

In a traditional accident between two human drivers, one of the humans (or more likely, both of them) is liable for the accident. Companies that manufacture vehicles that rely on computers to drive them are undertaking a serious risk. Under traditional products liability and warranties, sellers of products bear the burden to ensure that their products work correctly. These companies are potentially exposing themselves to huge liability should their vehicles become involved in accidents.

As of this writing, there are no uniform rules that govern self-driving cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to release long-awaited regulations sometime this July. Until those rules are released, courts are forced to use products liability and traditional negligence to determine liability.

If you were injured due to a defective product then you may want to speak to an attorney. Products liability cases can proceed in multiple methods. Many cases are often settled by the company directly however this may not be sufficient for your injury. In this case, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit. A lawyer can go over your situation with you, review any warranties and assist you with preparing a lawsuit.

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