As we move closer to the second decade of the 21st century, cars that drive themselves are no longer an unattainable technology. Multiple companies have begun to develop vehicles that can operate without human drivers, and there may be as many as ten million self-driving cars on the road by 2020. California is one of the few states that have enacted a law that allows the testing of self-driving cars on public roads.
The idea behind self-driving cars is to reduce crash risks, making the roads safer and reducing the number of injuries suffered by drivers each year. Highways full of self-driving vehicles may sound like an attractive solution to California’s traffic problems and high number of traffic related injuries and fatalities. However, to date that has not been the case. According to a recent crash report from California, a self-driving car crashed into a bus. Although there were no injuries, there have been other instances of self-driven cars leading to injuries. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, contact our auto accident attorneys today for a free consultation. We are located in downtown San Diego or can make arrangements to come to you.
Do Self-Driving Cars Affect My Liability in an Accident?
Whether you are in a car accident with a self-driving car or with another driver, the law of liability remains the same. To date, lawmakers in California have not created a separate negligence statute for self-driving cars. All drivers, robotic or not, are expected to drive with reasonable care.
Reasonable care includes keeping watch for other pedestrians or vehicles and it also includes controlling the vehicle with a safe speed. Even drivers who have mental impairments are held to this standard, so it seems there is no reason why autonomous cars (or at least their manufacturers, programmers, engineers, etc.) would not be held to the same standard.
Do Self-Driving Cars Affect My Right to Compensation in an Accident?
The short answer is that you have the same right to compensation as you do in a traditional car accident. Normally, when you are in a car accident, you look to the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage to compensate you for a loss. An insurance company may pay via a settlement or your claim may proceed to trial or arbitration.
If the at-fault driver does not have any liability insurance, you can look to see if any of the at-fault driver’s personal assets would be able to cover the damages.
Coverage in California
California law requires drivers to have $15,000 of liability coverage and $5,000 in property damage coverage. Unfortunately, this minimum coverage often is not enough to effectively compensate accident victims. Many drivers carry their own uninsured or underinsured coverage that they can rely on when the at fault driver has no, or has inadequate insurance.
While the California Legislature has not established minimum limits of coverage for self-driven cars, it is often the case that when a company is liable to an individual for an accident, the company will carry a commercial insurance policy with limits of a million dollars or more.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
While the technology of self-driven cars may be a long way away from overtaking individual drivers, the potential problems on the road they can cause is very real. If you have been in any accident, whether with a human, or with a robotic driver, it is important to contact an experienced accident lawyer. Our San Diego team can help you get the money you deserve and we will put our experience to work for you.