Hiring a Lawyer for an Accident With an Autonomous Vehicle

accident with self-driving carMany people entertain the idea of using an autonomous vehicle in the future. However, Congress and other lawmakers are concerned about the legal ramifications of autonomous vehicles, mainly about the safety of humans if a driverless car is involved in a car accident.

Fortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a unique rule that makes the safety of human occupants in autonomous vehicles mandatory. The rule has led to updates in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for occupant protection.

The NHTSA’s recent rule declares that regardless of the innovative designs of these cars and trucks, autonomous vehicles must provide and maintain the same high standards of occupant protection as traditional vehicles. This new rule comes on the heels of changes made last year by the NHTSA regarding vehicles with automated driving systems (ADS), and applies to all vehicles without manual control systems. Per the NHTSA:

Last summer, NHTSA issued a Standing General Order requiring crash and incident reporting for vehicles equipped with ADS or certain advanced driver-assistance systems. This reporting will help NHTSA investigators quickly identify defect trends that could emerge in these automated systems.

In addition, NHTSA initiated rulemaking last year to set safety standards for automatic emergency braking, a driver-assistance technology that can help avoid crashes with other road users, including pedestrians.

“The need to keep the humans safe remains the same and must be integrated from the beginning,”, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator Dr. Steven Cliff said about the new rule. “With this rule, we ensure that manufacturers put safety first.”.

How fault can be determined in an autonomous vehicle accident in Maryland

If you are injured in an accident with an autonomous vehicle, you may feel just as overwhelmed as you would in a traditional car accident. The only issue is that you may not know who to hold liable for your injuries. In a traditional car accident, the other driver is usually liable for your injuries in the event of a crash. But what happens when there is no “driver”?

One of the ways that an experienced Maryland car accident attorney can establish the manufacturer’s fault in an autonomous vehicle accident is by discovering some flaw in the development of the automated driving system. There are multiple types of technology that autonomous vehicles use to travel from destination to destination. Some of the common technologies that many autonomous vehicles use include:

  • Cameras. Autonomous vehicles use cameras to help interpret traffic signals and take images of the roadways. These cameras assist with tasks such as reading speed limit signs and noticing stop lights.
  • Lidar. This form of technology, short for “light detection and ranging”, incorporates the use of light and relies on it to map the environment more accurately and quickly than other systems. Autonomous vehicles incorporate the use of lidar to help detect the presence of vehicles before a lane change, maintain a safe distance between two vehicles, and stop a vehicle before it strikes another vehicle or object.
  • Ultrasonic sensors. Autonomous vehicles rely on the use of ultrasonic sensors to locate objects surrounding the vehicle, like curbs. This form of technology helps reduce the possibility of striking another vehicle or object and prevent significant damage from happening.
  • GPS. Autonomous vehicles also use GPS systems to devise a map of the vehicle’s surrounding area. These maps help organize the direction that the autonomous vehicle will travel.

Liability may also depend on the level of automation. For example, if a vehicle is ADS-equipped but still requires a human in the car in case of an emergency, then that person may be liable for your injuries. If the collision involved a “test” vehicle – a fully-autonomous car being tested on city roads – you may have to file a claim against the company performing the tests or even against the city itself. Liability is a complicated issue; one of our Maryland car accident attorneys can help.

If you or your loved one have sustained injuries in an accident involving an autonomous vehicle, seek the counsel of an experienced Maryland car accident attorney at Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA. We have the necessary expertise to help you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Call us today at 410-730-7737, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We have offices throughout the state of Maryland.