After years of research, planning, and experimentation, self-driving vehicles have made their way onto Las Vegas roads and highways.
Autonomous driving technology is supposed to reduce or remove human error and make vehicles and driving safer.
Autonomous vehicles can still malfunction, crash, and cause substantial injuries in an accident.
US car manufacturers reported nearly 400 crashes involving cars with partially autonomous driver assistance systems, according to a report last year from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The US car safety regulator collected reports of such crashes from manufacturers from July 2021 through May 2022.
What Is An Autonomous Vehicle?
An autonomous car, also known as a self-driving car, is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and operating without human involvement.
These vehicles use a combination of sensors, cameras, radar, and artificial intelligence (AI) to travel between destinations without intervention from the operator.
AVs can reduce crashes by 90%, saving approximately $190 billion annually.
Potential benefits of self-driving cars include improvements in safety and public health, increased productivity, quality of life, mobility, accessibility, and travel, especially for the disabled and elderly. Other benefits include:
Reduction of energy use, environmental impacts, congestion, and public and private costs associated with transportation; and increased adoption of car sharing.
Autonomous Vehicles In Nevada
In 2012, Nevada was the first state that allowed the testing of autonomous cars on public roads. It became the first state to legalize driverless, autonomous vehicles.
Nevada has been among the strongest supporters of autonomous vehicles (AV) by permitting firms to conduct testing in real-world settings that are not allowed anywhere else in the country.
The state offers a friendly regulatory environment for AV developers and is home to multiple companies investing in driverless technology.
Companies must apply for a license from the DMV to operate their driverless cars in Nevada, and the operators of autonomous vehicles must have an endorsement for their driver’s license.
Self-driving cars aren’t entirely driverless yet. A driver can turn on the automated driving feature but should remain ready to retake control when necessary.
The Society of Automotive Engineers has outlined levels of automation as follows:
No automation. The driver does everything.
The driver has minimal assistance, such as power brakes or power steering.
Partial automation like cruise control may exist, but the driver remains in control.
The car can operate without the driver’s control, but the driver is necessary and must pay attention and be ready to take control at any time.
The car can operate under certain conditions without intervention by the driver. Drivers can take control if they wish.
Fully automated vehicles that can operate without a driver. These vehicles may not even have a steering wheel or gas pedal.
Who Is Liable In An Accident Involving An Autonomous Vehicle?
Whether a vehicle is driverless or not, liability can always be contested after a crash.
Liability for an accident with a self-driving car can be more complicated than after a typical car crash. Most self-driving vehicles these days are partially, not entirely, autonomous. They still require human drivers to supervise the technology and intervene when the software fails.
Negligent operators, problems with the technology, and software glitches can lead to deadly auto accidents.
As the owner and operator of a vehicle, the person responsible for the accident will assume responsibility for that vehicle, regardless of who’s driving. The law is evident in this area – if someone else is driving your vehicle and causes an accident, your policy on the vehicle is the first one liable for the damages, whether the car was self-driven or not.
The manufacturer of a self-driving car might take liability for a car accident involving its vehicle if a product defect contributed to the crash. Every self-driving car manufacturer and distributor is responsible for ensuring the reasonable safety of their products. This includes duties such as designing safe models, ensuring their proper manufacture, inspecting vehicles for issues, and properly testing autonomous cars before releasing them to the general public.
The Software Company
Self-driving cars have installed software and sensors that a typical car doesn’t. The software developers and programmers of sensor systems could be liable if a defect or glitch in the software caused or contributed to an accident.
Government, Government Entities, and Regulatory Bodies
Government entities and regulatory bodies can also be held responsible for accidents involving autonomous vehicles depending on what laws they failed to enforce or what regulations they could not implement.
If a state’s regulatory authority allowed self-driving cars without proper safety standards being set first, this could lead to more accidents due to these vehicles’ lack of oversight and regulation.
The lack of stringent regulations could ultimately lead to legal action being taken against those responsible for setting such laws or regulations.
Suppose you are a victim of a self-driving car accident. In that case, you may be able to seek compensation from the dealership, the vehicle manufacturer, the self-driving component manufacturer, and various other companies. Once you file a claim, it is up to these parties to decide where the ultimate responsibility lies.
Product liability laws establish liability for all parties involved in the “chain of distribution” of a defective vehicle.
Pacific West Injury Law – We Focus On Delivering Exceptional Results For Victims Of Car Accidents
The car accident lawyers at our Las Vegas personal injury law firm have the knowledge and experience to handle this new area of motor vehicle accident law successfully. We investigate the circumstances of the accident to identify all responsible parties and hold each of them accountable. Our law firm adheres to the highest standards of professionalism, client service, and old-fashioned plain hard work. Such devotion to our client’s needs has helped our firm evolve into a highly respected practice in Las Vegas.
As part of our mission to serve communities in Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas, we offer free initial consultations and make home and hospital visits when you can’t come to us.
If you or a family member was involved in an autonomous vehicle accident, contact an experienced Las Vegas auto accident lawyer at Pacific West Injury Law to discuss your case.