Self-driving cars are becoming increasingly popular. From Tesla’s “autopilot” feature to completely driverless cars, more Americans are sharing the road with partially or totally unmanned vehicles.

Who’s responsible when a self-driving car is involved in an accident? Can you file a personal injury claim to recover damages? Here’s what you should know about this increasingly relevant possibility.

How self-driving vehicles operate

Self-driving vehicles use cameras, sensors and maps to navigate roads and avoid obstacles. The cameras and LIDAR (Light Imaging Detection and Ranging) sensors scan a vehicle’s surroundings, which allows the vehicle to “plan” a travel route. This works in conjunction with internal path planning programming, which includes route maps in the surrounding area. The vehicle first plans a long-range route (e.g., from home to the grocery store), then uses short-term plans to avoid traffic and obstacles.

Driverless cars are programmed to detect visible and potential obstacles, whether that’s a pedestrian crossing the road or another vehicle suddenly cutting them off. Depending on the car type and programming, the car may communicate wirelessly with other self-driving vehicles to alert them to hazards.

Despite the advanced technology, however, issues can arise. For example, sensors can degrade or fail over time, which increases the likelihood of an accident. Programming bugs can also cause problems. If the vehicle systems fail during a ride, a driver may need to take over and manually handle the vehicle. However, this can make it difficult to determine liability.

Who’s liable for driverless car accidents?

Fault for driverless car accidents usually rests with the manufacturer or the human driver. Manufacturers can be held responsible when a defectively designed or manufactured product leads to injury. This is a strict liability claim, which means that the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove the manufacturer knew about the problem—the fact that the accident occurred as a result of a defect is proof of their responsibility.

Drivers can also be responsible, depending on whether they were acting responsibly. For example, if they were negligent in monitoring the vehicle and failing to take action to avoid an accident, they may be liable. Similarly, drivers in other vehicles, along with pedestrians, cyclists and skateboarders may be held responsible if their conduct caused the accident.

If you’ve been injured in an autonomous vehicle accident, call the Law Offices of Tim Misny. We can evaluate your claim and let you know whether you may be able to recover damages for your injuries.

Talk to a Columbus car accident lawyer right away

The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you with your accident claim. When you’re the victim of negligence or recklessness, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at (877) 614-9524 so that I can evaluate your case right away.