One of the latest cities to get the greenlight for driverless vehicles is Austin, Texas. Although Argo AI, the company responsible for the technology, has been testing out autonomous vehicles in several cities for the last few years, 2022 marks the first time the cars will not have a person in the driver’s seat to take control in case something goes wrong.
What happens if an error occurs that leads to a collision? How is liability for these crashes determined?
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What is Considered a Driverless Vehicle?
There are several levels of vehicle automation. Driverless vehicles fall under the fourth level, because they have environmental detection capabilities and can make informed decisions about certain maneuvers such as acceleration or overtaking other vehicles.
A fourth-level automated vehicle does not require a driver, hence the name “driverless,” but a human can still override the system in case of an emergency.
What Are the Restrictions on Driverless Vehicles?
In 2021, a Texas law governing automated motor vehicles took effect that would not require certain types of driverless vehicles to carry safety equipment normally found in other vehicles. For example, seatbelts or windshield wipers. The law specifically states that this only applies to vehicles incapable of being operated by a human operator, such as automated delivery truck fleets that have been on Texas roads for several years now.
There are not many state restrictions on driverless vehicles. However, the state is requiring the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Department of Public Safety (DPS), in tandem with the appropriate federal agencies, to conduct a study about the potential benefits of automated driving systems and the overall impact on safety and efficiency.
The company that is testing its driverless vehicles on Texas roads, Argo AI, emphasized that its vehicles will only operate during daytime hours. The company has also mapped out a route for the vehicles, so it is presumed that they will not travel outside of a certain range. However, the areas where the cars will be restricted to driving are heavily populated with vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
One of the safety restrictions the company set for its vehicles is having a company employee riding in the passenger seat to oversee operations. It is not clear how much override control these passengers will have over the vehicle should something go wrong, however.
What Are My Options if I am Injured While Riding in a Driverless Vehicle?
If you get injured in an accident while riding in a driverless vehicle, you may have several options for seeking compensation. Liability for the accident depends on the cause of the crash, however.
In cases when the collision is due to driver error, such as another vehicle crashing into the driverless vehicle, you may have the option of filing a third party claim with that driver’s liability insurance. You would need to prove that other driver’s negligent actions directly resulted in the accident that caused your damages.
When a collision is caused by a defect in the driverless vehicle, pursuing compensation may be a little different. This holds true whether you were in the driverless vehicle or your own car.
Autonomous vehicle manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, say they will accept liability for accidents caused by their self-driving vehicles. This is an important point because you would need to file a product liability claim to pursue compensation for your damages in cases of an accident caused by a defect in the driverless vehicle.
Despite these large companies claiming they will accept liability, pursuing compensation from a large corporation is often difficult due to their vast legal resources. You need an experienced attorney who is willing to fight on your behalf.
Need Help Filing a Claim? Call Us Today
If you were injured in an accident with a driverless vehicle in Texas, call our knowledgeable attorneys to help you file a claim. Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience and know how to build a strong case for compensation.
We do not charge you any upfront fees, and you do not pay us until we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.
Call (817) 920-9000 to schedule a free consultation.