Who Is Liable for an Accident Caused by a Self-Driving Car?

Self-driving cars are becoming more and more common on the roads of Kansas City. Although autonomous technologies are supposed to make driving safer, software glitches, mechanical malfunctions and operator errors have plagued the self-driving automotive industry from the start. If a self-driving car causes an accident, liability can be more difficult to assign than in a typical car accident case. You may need an attorney’s assistance.


Was the Car Accident in Kansas or Missouri?

The first step in determining liability for a self-driving car accident is understanding the laws in the state where the car accident took place. Kansas and Missouri have very different car accident liability laws. Missouri is a traditional tort-based state, while Kansas uses a less conventional no-fault law.


If the car accident took place in Kansas City, Missouri, the person or party responsible for causing the accident will be liable for damages. In Kansas, however, all injured victims will seek compensation from their own car insurance providers, regardless of fault. The only time an injured driver in Kansas can hold the negligent party financially responsible is if the accident causes a serious injury.

Fault for a Self-Driving Car Accident

If the law in your state gives you grounds to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, you may need a car accident lawyer to investigate the crash and help you determine fault. Liability is not an easy question to answer in a crash involving a self-driving car. Rather than your suit only being between two drivers, you may have grounds to hold many different parties financially responsible.

The Owner of the Vehicle

Vehicle maintenance is the responsibility of the owner. If poor vehicle maintenance caused or contributed to the self-driving car accident, the owner of the car could be liable. If, for example, the self-driving vehicle experienced a tire blowout due to inadequate tire pressure, the owner of the car could be legally responsible for a related accident.

The Human Operator

Most self-driving vehicles require human operators to sit inside the cab and supervise the autonomous technology. It is the operator’s responsibility to reclaim control of the vehicle if the car emits a warning signal or the self-driving technology malfunctions. If the human operator is inattentive and fails to take control, the driver could be liable for an accident.

The Manufacturing Company

If the autonomous vehicle accident occurs due to a defect with the vehicle or one of its parts, such as a design flaw or manufacturing error, the manufacturing or distribution company could be liable. If the self-driving technology glitched and failed to prevent an accident, for example, a victim may have grounds for a product liability claim. Several major automakers have already faced lawsuits for defects with self-driving cars, including Tesla, GM, Uber and Google.

The Government

It may be possible to hold the government liable for a self-driving car accident in Kansas City if the government agency in charge of controlling vehicle tests was too lax in its regulations. If the government gave a company permission to test drive one of its self-driving vehicles on a public road, for example, the government agency could be liable for a related injury or death.

When to Hire a Car Accident Attorney

Multiple parties may share fault for a self-driving car accident in Kansas City as well. The manufacturing company may bear a portion of the fault for a software error, for example, but the human operator may also be to blame for failing to take control of the wheel. Naming numerous defendants in your car accident case can increase the insurance coverage available.

A thorough investigation of your self-driving car accident can reveal which party or parties are responsible for causing the collision. A car accident lawyer can revisit the scene of your crash, interview eyewitnesses, hire crash reconstruction experts and review documents related to your case, such as a police report, to determine fault. Then, your lawyer can represent you during an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.


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