Early this month, a truck overturned a freeway outside of Fontana, California, blocking two lanes. A few minutes later, a Tesla vehicle crashed into the truck, severely injuring both the 50-year-old driver and a 30-year-old Good Samaritan who stopped to help. Tragically, the 35-year-old man behind the wheel of the Tesla didn’t survive.
Now, authorities are trying to determine whether the Tesla was operating on its automated system. If it was, the accident will add to the list of 24 other crashes involving automated Tesla vehicles that are currently under investigation by federal highway safety regulators.
Who is responsible when an automated vehicle crashes?
Tesla and other companies that have been developing automated vehicles say that it’s only a matter of time before every car out there is fully autonomous — and they say that the roads will be much safer.
That’s the future, however. For now, the issue of liability when automated vehicles crash is a very tricky one, indeed. Generally speaking, experts say that the vast majority of wrecks involving such vehicles are still attributable to human error — when they aren’t caused by other vehicles on the road.
Just the same, liability can shift from the driver of an automated vehicle to the vehicle (or the automated system, if that was designed by a company other than the manufacturer) when its programming fails to live up to expectations.
Where do you turn when there’s a crash with an autonomous vehicle?
Any accident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to be complicated. The makers of these vehicles don’t want to admit that they may be liable — since that would cast a pall over their plans to gain public support for their products. By the same token, the human drivers aren’t likely to be anxious to admit liability, either.
If you’ve been injured or a loved one was killed by an automated vehicle, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. Turn to an experienced attorney who knows how to protect your interests and who can advocate for everything you are due.