Kansas City Townsend Law Firm

What to do if you’re hit by a full self-driving or autopilot Tesla

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Car Accidents

Human error is responsible for a significant amount of the car crashes that occur each year. People come distracted by conversations with their passengers or decide to drive while they are sick or tired. Those choices can have dire consequences for others. The idea of an autonomous car is, therefore, very attractive. By eliminating human error as a contributing factor, manufacturers could theoretically reduce the rate of crashes that occur across the United States.

Self-driving cars are still in their early stages, but consumers are eager to make use of this new technology. Tesla, for example, has self-driving software in its vehicles that allows motorists to minimize their active control of the vehicle. Such technology is still relatively new and therefore has yet to reach a point where it is as safe as human driving. Crashes can and do occur because of what self-driving vehicles do in traffic.

What should someone do after a vehicle in autonomous mode causes a crash?

Report the collision

To hold someone else responsible for the wreck, drivers typically need to report a collision. They can then file an insurance claim against the operator of the self-driving vehicle. Drivers are still responsible for autonomous self-driving vehicles. Although there is now technology that allows vehicles to identify pedestrians or recognize when slowing down as necessary, drivers cannot simply ignore road conditions in a vehicle with self-driving capabilities. They need to remain alert and actively engaged in their travels to resume control over the vehicle if necessary. The failure to do so makes the driver responsible for any crash that might occur.

Look into all options for compensation

The insurance policy covering the autonomous vehicle can compensate those involved in the crash. The people who get hit by a Tesla or other vehicle with a self-driving mode may also need to consider a personal injury lawsuit. A lawsuit brought against a negligent driver who relied too much on technology could increase the compensation available to those harmed by self-driving vehicles. It may also be possible to hold the vehicle manufacturer accountable in some cases.

There have already been multiple recalls of the self-driving software in Tesla vehicles due to programming issues and other problems. If issues with self-driving software are part of the reason the crash occurred, then the manufacturer that programmed that software could also have a degree of liability.

Looking into the details of a car crash caused by a self-driving vehicle might help people determine what options they should pursue for compensation. A combination of insurance coverage and litigation may be necessary if a crash results in significant injuries and other losses for the people involved.