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Automated Liability - Can Cars That Drive Themselves Be At Fault?

Steve Wagner

Major automotive manufacturers are scrambling to keep up with the latest technology behind automated cars. The hope: cars that can drive themselves will ultimately be less fallible and safer than human drivers behind the wheel.

But what happens, inevitably, when these systems fail?

It won’t be long before these automated cars are causing accidents. Whether it’s a breach in the network security of their systems, a hardware or software failure, design and manufacturing flaws, or something else, automated cars won’t be perfect.

The real question is, who will be to blame for these accidents when the people in these self-reliant cars are injured? Who will accept the responsibility?

The liability of auto accident cases will no longer be so “simple” as to determine the percentage of fault for each party involved. We will now have to factor in exactly what caused each accident, and determine how to place fault based on many factors.

  • Negligence: If the accident was caused by the failure of a system that was being used in a reasonable way, the manufacturers could be blamed for the accident. For example, if the brakes in an automated car fail to perform well when they are wet, accidents that occur during inclement weather could be a result of the negligence of the manufacturer to predict and prevent such accidents.
  • Design Defects: Every so often, something that undergoes testing and gets released to the market still has issues with pieces and parts that don’t perform as they should. Often, this is the result of a design flaw. With so many intricate pieces and parts, automated cars may suffer from many design flaws before all of the kinks get worked out. These defects may not be ruled as negligent, but simply a failure in the design of the system.
  • Third Party Responsibility: With automated cars being assembled with parts from manufacturers all over the country and all over the world, there will be many different “names” represented in each car. So what happens if an outsourced part fails on a car? Depending on the case, it could be ruled as a negligence or design defect that’s the responsibility of a third party dealer and not even the manufacturer of the car.

We are excited for this new technology in the hopes that it does prevent injuries and save lives, but we want to stay on top of the latest developments in product liability law as these cases will bring a whole new challenge to the table.

Injured in a Car Accident? Call Wagner Reese

If you’ve already suffered an injury in a car accident, whether it was automated or not, the attorneys at Wagner Reese have decades of experience in personal injury and product liability law. We can assist you in recovering the damages you’re owed for the injuries you’ve incurred. Give us a call today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation.


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