Self-Driving Car Accident Lawyer
Michigan is widely known as the car capital of the world. Our state has been on the front lines of transportation innovation since 1896 when Henry Ford developed his first car. This was still true in 1939 when General Motors created the first self-driving vehicle, which was an electric model controlled by electromagnetic sensors built into the road.
Today’s self-driving machines are incredibly more advanced and can drive without sensors. They can navigate roadways on their own without the need for a human driver. – generally speaking.
Most of us probably never imagined we would share the road with self-driving cars. You also never expected one of them would miscalculate its position and slam into your vehicle. If you are facing time off work and massive medical bills after being injured in such a collision, it’s time to call Mike Morse Law Firm.
The attorneys at Mike Morse Law Firm always fight to get you the money our clients deserve. We are available for a free consultation 24/7. This means we are here for you whenever you need to speak to a car accident lawyer who has the expertise you need, day or night. Call us right away at (855) MIKE-WINS or click the live chat box to begin your free consultation.
The Future of Transportation
Whether you are ready for it or not, fully self-driving cars and trucks will be the future of transportation. Stanford Magazine revealed in a 2018 article the impact of driverless technology. It will dramatically change the entire industry, from cars and commercial trucks to trains, forklifts, and boats.
There are numerous companies now in the mix, among the auto industry here in Michigan as well, that are all working to take human error out of the equation. The process begins with driver-assisted technologies designed to make driving safer.
Driver-assisted safety technology developments over the past decade include:
- Blind-spot detection
- Rear-view video systems
- Emergency braking
- Cross-traffic alerts
- Lane assists
- Adaptive cruise control
- Automated parking assist
Now there are vehicles in the market, like Tesla, that have an autopilot feature. This feature allows the vehicle to steer, brake, and accelerate on its own. Despite having self-driving capabilities, these automobiles are not considered completely autonomous. Most require driver supervision. In fact, none of the autonomous vehicles on the road today are 100 percent without some type of human intervention.
The Five Levels of Automation
As automobile designers and manufacturers continue to develop and test different types of self-driving cars, it is important to examine how each is classified. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists 5 separate levels of automation.
Level 1 is an advanced driver assistance system that helps a human driver in a limited way. This can be a safety feature such as automatic braking, steering, or accelerating. It is limited because the vehicle only has one of these functions.
This level is a bit more advanced, with an assistance system that can control acceleration, braking, and steering all at the same time. While such a system is more advanced, it still requires a human driver to perform the rest of the driving tasks while also paying attention to the road.
At Level 3, you will find the first truly automated driving system where the vehicle can perform all driving tasks on its own. In certain circumstances, like night driving or in bad weather, the automated system can request the driver to take back control.
In most circumstances, a Level-4 automated driving system can do all the driving while monitoring the environment around the vehicle. Humans can ride along without paying close attention.
This is the most advanced level of automated driving system available today. A Level-5 self-driving automobile allows the human to simply be a passenger who does not need to be involved in the driving process at all.
Who is At Fault After a Self-Driving Car Accident?
There is indeed a global race on to see who can master self-driving technology faster. While new additions are considered to be safety features, errors still happen all the time. These are sometimes the result of automakers exaggerating how protective these attributes are.
Meanwhile, technology is advancing faster than laws can be passed. A lack of federal guidelines or safety legislature regarding self-driving cats remains.
The National Law Review reported that self-driving cars have a higher accident rate than cars driven by humans. The goal of every auto company is to lower the number of accidents. Still, the risk of severe injury or even death by autonomous vehicles may continue to increase.
After Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature caused a few accidents, the company refused to take responsibility. In fact, it laid the blame at the feet of the human occupant of the vehicle. This is why determining liability after a self-driving vehicle accident is going to be difficult.
Was there a manufacturing defect? Did the accident violate product liability laws? Was the human occupant failing to pay attention? These questions can be answered by a self-driving car accident lawyer. Call Mike Morse Law Firm today so we can go to work helping you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
High-Profile Self-Driving Incidents
In 2016, one Tesla driver was killed in a crash with a semi-truck. This was the very first accident death recorded by the company. The Tesla’s “Autopilot” was turned on at the time. The system failed to recognize the side of a semi-trailer in front of it and attempted to pass under the trailer. Neither did the driver see the other vehicle. This demonstrates what can happen when we get too comfortable with technology: we take our eyes off the road.
In 2018, Tempe, AZ, a high-profile accident death put Uber in the crosshairs of a lawsuit. A pedestrian was killed while trying to cross the street in Tempe, Arizona. Apparently, the sensors did not pick up the woman who was riding her bike at night. This forced Uber to close its self-driving program in the state. This seems to be the first death caused by a fully autonomous vehicle (AV).
In April 2021, Elon Musk tweeted, “Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than the average vehicle.” Here, he was citing a 2021 Q1 Safety Report released by his company.
Later in 2021, Reuters reported that the NHTSA was reopening an investigation into the Tesla Autopilot feature. Earlier in the year, it had closed a probe that looked into the 29 crashes that left four people dead. In each of those incidents, Autopilot was found to be engaged. Now the NHTSA wants to know why Tesla vehicles are crashing into emergency vehicles, noting 11 different crashes since 2018.
As of 2022, Poni.ai, a small autonomous vehicle automaker in Michigan, is being questioned by the NHTSA. One of their test AVs drove off the road and hit a highway sign after a software glitch. The damages were relatively insignificant, but the company’s reaction landed them in hot water with the government. The NSTSA is looking to see whether Poni.ai filed its report in time to comply with the law. This is one more example of a dangerous situation caused by an AV.
IIHS Study Finds Self-Driving Vehicles Not Much Safer
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has another view on the matter. They conducted a study in 2020 that found self-driving cars may not actually be very effective at preventing accidents. While autonomous vehicles might be superior at identifying hazards, they still can’t avoid most crashes.
The IIHS came to this conclusion after looking at data from over 5,000 police-reported crashes by human drivers. The types of self-driving crashes they identified are summed up in 5 categories of driver errors, which include:
- Sensing and perceiving errors
- Planning and deciding errors
- Execution and performance errors
- Predicting errors
- Incapacitation errors
These categories include unavoidable incidents, like tire blowouts. They determined that the only errors self-driving cars can improve are perceiving and incapacitation. Humans can become distracted or drive while under the influence while computers cannot. These types of incidents account for around 33 percent of all vehicle accidents.
It is certainly good news that AVs can cut down on distractions. The problem is that system malfunctions might make self-driving vehicle accidents more common. There are plenty of questions surrounding this technology and its long-term safety.
Passenger cars and trucks are not the only vehicles getting autonomous makeovers. In 2021, one self-driving semi-truck carried a load of watermelons 960 miles from Texas to Arizona. If you thought the concept of autonomous cars was scary, the prospect of commercial vehicles will be downright terrifying.
For many trucking companies, self-driving trucks will be the solution to several big problems within the industry. According to a 2021 report from American Trucking Associations, Inc, there is a massive driver shortage. Currently, the US is short over 80,000 drivers, causing supply chain issues. By 2030, this number is estimated to reach 160,000 drivers.
Another problem for the industry is tough regulations that dictate the number of hours a commercial driver can be on the road. Humans need to sleep and can get exhausted. Computers do not. The self-driving semi was able to deliver its load of watermelons 10 hours sooner than possible if a human drove that same route.
It is expected that autonomous commercial vehicles can reduce the number of accidents due to human error. With that being said, the technology is far from perfect. Errors happen and can result in serious injuries and even death. If you are the victim of a driverless truck accident and need compensation for your pain and suffering, call Mike Morse Law Firm today.
One major concern of AVs is how safe they are from hackers. The University of Michigan conducted a study that looked at the cybersecurity risks of automated vehicles.
The study detailed a case back in 2015 when a group of hacktivists was able to infiltrate a Jeep Cherokee. It was traveling at 70 mph through St. Louis, MO. The hackers were able to control the vehicle’s radio, braking, ventilation, and more, ultimately stalling it out on the freeway. One year later, they took over its parking and steering capabilities by bypassing its security system.
Vulnerabilities in automated vehicles can include:
- Control systems
- GPS mapping
- Speed control
The paper shared that the development of autonomous vehicles overlooks cybersecurity concerns. They also looked at other frightening but possible scenarios. Imagine your car will not move from the parking lot. Moments later, you get a text demanding $100 in Bitcoin sent to a private address or else you can’t drive home.
The more technology develops, the greater the risks involved. We are becoming more connected and reliant on automation. If a hacker takes control of your vehicle and causes an accident, you can hold the manufacturer responsible for creating an unsafe ride. You should call a self-driving car accident lawyer right away for a free consultation.
Without human intervention
While the majority of self-driving cars on the road today have a human helper, this is not always the case. There is a real push for autonomous cars to deliver goods to customers. These cars, unlike other self-driving cars, encourage less human intervention. In fact, they may not even have a steering wheel, driver seat, or gas pedal.
Called Nuro Inc., the NHTSA has given full approval for the first-of-its-kind fully automated delivery vehicle. Currently, it is estimated there are around 5,000 fully-electric Nuro Inc. cars on the road today. While some experts see this as a win for the autonomous vehicle industry, it poses many safety hazards.
Nuro Inc. has zero human input from inside the vehicle whatsoever. The only intervention in the event of a problem will be handled remotely from its home base. The trained human operator will be able to take control of the vehicle. Another concern is that Nuro Inc. is considered low-speed. It is incapable of going faster than 25 mph. Small, slow-moving cars can cause traffic headaches as well as accidents.
Answers to Important Self-Driving Car Accident Questions
What Damages Are Possible After an Accident with Self-Driving Cars?
Self-driving cars are capable of causing serious accidents that result in severe injury and death. If this is the case, you may be entitled to receive economic and non-economic damages. Mike Morse Law Firm is here to fight for your right to seek every dollar you deserve.
After an accident with a self-driving vehicle, you may be facing:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost time at work
- Temporary or lifelong disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mounting medical bills
- Property damage
- Emotional trauma
If the accident resulted in the death of a loved one, there will be funeral expenses as well as other financial and emotional losses. You do not have to face this alone. Call Mike Morse Law Firm today for a free consultation on your case. You can be compensated for each one of those damages.
Who Is At Fault In A Self-driving Car Accident?
Determining who is at fault for a Michigan motor vehicle collision is rarely straightforward. Self-driving cars can add a new level of complexity to these cases as well.
If a car drives itself, who is to blame when an accident occurs? Does the responsibility trace back to the designer or manufacturer? After all, they claimed that the vehicle could perform sophisticated driving tasks.
What about the human operator? Would he or she ultimately be the one liable for the behavior of a self-driving car?
The answers vary based on many factors. First, attorneys investigate if car operators used the autonomous features according to product specifications. Ignoring directions found in the automobile manual could place a human at fault for an accident.
Assuming a human operated the vehicle as required, a lawyer might next consider whether self-driving technology failed in some way. The automaker might be held accountable for design flaws or manufacturing defects.
In some cases, a portion of responsibility is shared between multiple parties. In such a case, personal injury damages could be pursued from more than one party. If a driver’s negligence played a role in a self-driving accident, it could affect how much compensation he or she receives from other at-fault parties.
Can You Be Drunk In A Self-driving Car?
You have heard the slogans for decades: Don’t drink and drive. Drive sober or get pulled over.
You might be wondering whether these campaigns apply to self-driving cars. And what about the passengers?
What operators of self-driving cars need to know
In some driving modes, self-driving car operators can take their hands off of the wheel. Yet, they should be aware that, legally:
- Driving is driving. Blood alcohol limits are the same for drivers of all passenger vehicles, including self-driving cars. In Michigan, a driver’s BAC should never exceed 0.08 percent. Commercial and underage drivers have even stricter limits.
- Car operators should be alert at all times. Self-driving cars are not exempt from mechanical issues. They rely on sensors, cameras, and other safety features to make decisions. If something goes wrong, the human should be ready to take over the driving task.
What passengers need to know
Drunk people need to get around like everyone else. Though riding while intoxicated is not illegal, passengers should realize that:
- Consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle is illegal in Michigan
- Open containers must be stored in the trunk
In short, Michigan transportation regulations and alcohol laws don’t make exceptions for self-driving car drivers and passengers.
What Happens If a Self-Driving Car Malfunctions?
Mechanical failures can arise from manufacturing defects, poor maintenance, or improper product use.
Serious consequences could follow malfunctions of the following auto components:
- Steering mechanisms
- Windshield wipers
What might happen if these parts or essential systems malfunction?
Cars stall when the engine stops working. At the same time, drivers could lose control of the power steering and brakes, making it difficult to maneuver to safety.
If an autonomous car stalls or behaves unpredictably because of a malfunction, it could endanger other motorists and pedestrians. Self-driving car accidents have resulted in property damage, injuries, and death.
When a self-driven Uber killed a pedestrian, the company temporarily suspended its self-driving operations in Arizona. Similar accidents could provoke widespread recalls of autonomous vehicles until they are safer for the public.
If you were hurt by a malfunctioning self-driving car or any other product, you might be wondering how the law can protect you. Mike Morse Law Firm’s lawyers can address your concerns and answer your questions.
We have pursued and won compensation for both those hurt by defective products and car accident victims. Whether investigations reveal that manufacturers, human backup drivers, or other parties are at fault, our personal injury attorneys can work to protect your rights.
What Often Causes Fatal Self-driving Car Accidents?
One day, self-driving cars could eliminate accidents that occur due to negligent or reckless human behaviors. Yet, the driving record of autonomous vehicles is not without blemish. Several people have already lost their lives in fatal accidents involving self-driving cars.
What are the most common causes of fatal self-driving car accidents?
- Imperfect visuals: According to Tesla, the vehicle that caused the very first self-driving automobile accident did not apply brakes because the system did not detect a white semi-trailer against a brightly lit sky. The human operator also failed to discern this obstacle.
- Unheeded warnings: Some vehicles give visual or audible signals to alert drivers to hazards and request “hands-on” intervention. In 2018, Tesla released information indicating no detectable reaction from the driver to the pre-crash notifications.
- Driverless driving: No one was behind the wheel when a self-driving automobile crashed into a tree in 2021. Manufacturers state that current self-driving cars are only partially automated. Therefore, the backup driver must be alert and available to take over control at all times.
- Mechanical issues: One driver complained of malfunctions to a friend before being found deceased in an overturned vehicle.
Self-driving cars are a new technology. Moving forward, autonomous cars could make traffic fatalities a thing of the past.
Can I Get Arrested for DUI in a Self-Driving Car?
In the United States, DUI is the crime of driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Controlled substances and any medications – prescription or otherwise – that interfere with your ability to operate a motor vehicle are prohibited.
Michigan drivers can be convicted of a DUI offense if their BAC is 0.08 or higher. If you are under age 21, driving with a BAC above 0.2 percent is against the law. The limit for CDL license holders is .015 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood.
By definition, a self-driving car performs driving tasks with minimal to zero input from the human operator. So, can you get arrested for a DUI in a self-driving car?
The answer is yes. Autonomous vehicles use various sensors and control systems to function, but the human operator is not free from responsibility. For safety, the driver must monitor road conditions, ready to take control whenever necessary.
In Michigan, there are no special rules for self-driving car operators. Like other motorists, they must be sober whenever they are behind the wheel. Otherwise, they can be arrested, face license suspensions, fines, mandatory jail time, or community service.
Can You Use a Phone in a Self-Driving Car?
Several years ago, the thought of living in a world with self-driving cars may have seemed like science fiction. Yet, more and more cities are moving towards the implementation of self-driving cars. As we approach the future where self-driving cars become the norm, various questions are being asked.
One of these questions is, “Can you use a phone for texting or calling in a self-driving car?” This is a good question since the law in most states prohibits the use of a phone while driving for safety reasons.
A driver who is texting or talking on the phone is heavily distracted from concentrating on the road and surroundings. In fact, according to one study, driving while talking on a phone is as bad – or perhaps even worse – than drunk driving.
However, it is somewhat different with self-driving cars. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has thus created different levels of autonomy for self-driving vehicles.
In a fully autonomous car, it is the computer that does the driving. But with a semi-autonomous car, human assistance would be required, since the computer only partially drives the car. Nevertheless, the human driver must be ready to take over control of the autonomous vehicle at any time.
What Happens If a Self-driving Car Hits a Pedestrian?
If you were hit one day while crossing the street, you no doubt want the guilty party to pay compensation for the harm they have done, even if your injuries are rather minor. When you approach the car to speak with the driver, however, you may notice that this is no ordinary car. It is an autonomous vehicle (AV), in which the computer does most – if not all – of the driving. Who, then, should you pursue for compensation?
Self-driving cars are becoming increasingly common in many cities across the United States. In fact, experts are predicting that self-driving cars will soon become the norm rather than the exception. In the scenario presented above, the driver would most likely be found liable for negligence. But, in the case of a self-driving car, pursuing compensation from the guilty party may not be so straightforward.
There may be several parties who share liability for the pedestrian accident. The driver is perhaps the most easily identifiable, even in the case of a self-driving car. He or she is a “backup driver” and is therefore supposed to be alert to the car’s activity.
The vehicle manufacturer could also be found liable if the accident occurred due to a faulty part or system. This would then be a case of product liability.
A Self-Driving Car Accident Lawyer Can Be There for You
Self-driving cars pose an unexpected danger to the public. The technology behind it is still in the early stages of development. Laws that govern autonomous vehicles and their safety are still lacking. Therefore, it can be challenging to prove who is liable after an accident with a self-driving car.
Worse yet, it can be more difficult to quantify non-economic damages like pain and suffering. You should not handle your legal case alone, nor should you accept the first offer given by the insurance company. You need an experienced self-driving accident lawyer with a history of proven results to evaluate your claim’s maximum value.
The consequences caused by the negligence of others can be devastating. That is why you need a team you can rely on to have your back when times get tough.
Mike Morse Law Firm has over 25 years of experience helping victims of car accidents seek the money damages they need, and we did not become Michigan’s largest personal injury law firm by letting our clients down. We have won over $1 billion in compensation for injured Michiganders and other clients across the nation, and we are nowhere near done.
Call us today at 855-MIKE-WINS for your free consultation. Our representatives are standing by 24/7 to take your call.
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