Here’s What You Need to Know About Liability in Self-Driving Car Accidents

Mar 24, 2023
Updated • Mar 24, 2023

Who is responsible when there’s an accident involving a self-driving car? Here’s what you need to know.

Who is responsible when there’s an accident involving a self-driving car
Terrible accident of two cars on highway

While self-driving cars may have seemed like science fiction in the past, it’s quickly become a reality in modern times. Sure, the idea of not having to handle the vehicle while it drives itself sounds exciting. There’s one problem, though: who is held responsible when there’s an accident?

So, there are several factors to consider here. I may have studied some contract and HR law in the past, but there isn’t clear legislation on what specifically happens when there’s an accident with self-driving cars. What we can rely on is something that’s called personal injury that’s caused by the negligence of a second party. 

Now, if you feel you’re the victim of injury by negligence, there are more factors to consider. Do you feel that the other party owes you due for the injury caused? How sure they are liable for the accident that happened? Most importantly, are you certain that you or the self-driving technology isn’t to blame?

Who is responsible when there’s an accident involving a self-driving car

That’s where we enter the next field of consideration: who is really liable? There are actually four parties involved when there’s an accident with a self-driving car. The first two have to do with the human factor. Even if you aren’t driving the car, you’re still responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is behaving as it should and overriding it manually if you see there’s danger. The other person driving the other car may also have been negligent, being the second party.

Then the other two parties have to do with the vehicle. If any parts are faulty, such as the brakes or detection system, the manufacturer is liable for causing the accident. Of course, you need to make sure the vehicle is properly maintained, so that can bring it back to you.

The final party is the software designer of the technology that drives the car for you on your behalf. If there’s a system glitch that caused the accident, you can very much hold them liable for the accident.

Who is responsible when there’s an accident involving a self-driving car

As you can see, making a claim for a self-driving car accident isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem at first. They may be fun and convenient to drive, but you need to consider all these facts to see who is really liable.


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  1. Anonymous said on March 25, 2023 at 3:51 pm

    Wow! You guys are harsh. This article is just bouncing ideas around. Lighten up a little.

  2. Squish said on March 25, 2023 at 1:53 pm

    Fully autonomous driving systems are not yet legal to use on roads in many countries. Find a legal adviser with specialist training in the area of your problem. Don’t blindly believe some random Science fantasy article about AI cars, and Law from a non-qualified person as per the article. 🐪

  3. John G. said on March 24, 2023 at 6:10 pm

    The best of the article is the photo of Lightning McQueen. And I am not joking.

    1. Someone said on March 24, 2023 at 11:47 pm

      +1 . I love mcQueen also.

  4. Oxa said on March 24, 2023 at 3:57 pm

    Seriously? Liability laws vary from country to country, and within the U.S., from state to state. You think I’m going to take legal advice from some soccer dad from some other country? What chutzpah! Stay in your lane.

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