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Who is Liable in a Diverless Car Accident?

Manufacturers of driverless cars have long claimed that their vehicles reduce the risk of car accidents by eliminating the possibility of human error. Driverless cars use computer programs, sensors, and algorithms to automatically respond to traffic cues around them. The idea is that the car is able to interpret data about obstacles around the car and to respond appropriately to those issues to prevent crashes. Unlike human drivers, driverless cars are never affected by distraction, fatigue, inebriation, and the other human factors that cause car accidents in Hollywood and Florida.


Experts say that driverless cars are the future and could significantly reduce car crashes. However, legislation to make driverless cars common on our streets has been slow in development. Part of the issue holding up wide-spread adoption of the driverless car is the issue of liability. If these cars do get into crashes, who is liable? In traditional vehicle crashes, authorities look at the liability of both drivers involved. In a driverless car, this would not be an option.

Deciding Liability

Both Volvo and Google have announced that they would accept liability if their driverless cars were to be involved in crashes. However, the manufacturers would only accept liability if a design or mechanical flaw caused the crash. If car users modified the car or were using it not as intended, the owners of the vehicle would still be liable for any crash resulting from their behavior. If a third party were responsible for causing the crash, the third party would be liable. It is not clear whether the court system would automatically accept manufacturer liability in these cases.

Human Factors

The statements made about liability by manufacturers highlights a key concern for driverless cars: however much they claim to take the human factor out of driving, people are still involved and may still cause car accidents. For example, most driverless cars have manual modes and it’s possible that drivers operating driverless vehicles may cause an accident. In addition, other vehicles around the driverless car may crash into the car when it is stopped at a traffic light or parked.

Driverless Accidents

In California, there are 48 driverless cars on the road and in 2014 and 2015 four of them were involved in car crashes. Manufacturers of the vehicles say their cars were not fault in the accidents, but details about the collisions were not released. Manufacturers say the accidents were “minor fender benders” occurring when another car crashed into the driverless vehicles, which were stopped at the time of the crashes. No one was hurt in the accidents.

If you have been injured in a car crash anywhere in South Florida, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation. At Flaxman Law Group, we understand who our client is: you. Our entire focus is always on providing the best experience, results, and approach for you. Our goal is to offer you the best legal service and the best results possible. We treat you the way we would treat a member of our own family who needed legal advice.