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Can you claim compensation for a road accident injury in a self-driving car?

Nissan CarThe personal injury regulations surrounding a road traffic accident are fairly complex, but in most cases, one party accuses the other of causing an accident which resulted in an injury. As personal injury solicitors, we look for human error in our road traffic accident claims, which means if one party is driving erratically, drunk, asleep or under the influence of other drugs, we use this to prove that these resulted in the accident.

However, many car manufacturers have plans to launch self-driving cars on the roads over the coming years, with Nissan hoping to see their self-driving cars on the roads by 2020. These self-driving cars will add an extra level of complexity to road traffic accident claims and will murky the waters of human error and liability. Common fears about self-driving cars include, who’s liable in an accident, or what happens if a drunk person in a self-driving car crashes into a sober person in another self-driving car?

Liability in a self-driving car accident

As we mentioned above, liability is the key area causing confusion. In typical road traffic accidents, one party will either admit liability or be proven to be liable in a car accident as a result of their actions, be it dangerous driving, or driving under the influence, and our claim will be made against them and their insurer. However, in a self-driving car accident, who is liable? In a recent announcement, Volvo has said that it plans to accept full responsibility for all accidents involving their self-driving cars, but as self-driving vehicles become more common on the roads, this strategy seems unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. What’s more, other car manufacturers haven’t revealed their stance on the matter.

As self-driving cars are still very new, we don’t have an exact answer to the liability issues, but we feel it will come down to how much input a human has with them. If a person simply gets into a car and never interacts with it during the journey, it is likely that a manufacturer would be held responsible in the event of an accident, and a claim would be made against them in the same way a road traffic claim is processed today. However, if a person has the ability to override the car’s systems or can influence the driving style, an accident claim could theoretically be made against the driver/passenger, in the same way claims are handled today.

Another issue regarding liability is who is responsible in an accident between a self-driving car and a manual car? Self-driving cars are likely to be expensive when they are first made available commercially, meaning there will be a mixture of manual cars and automated cars on the roads, and occasionally they will collide. While drivers in a manual car are more susceptible to human error, this doesn’t, and shouldn’t mean they are automatically guilty of causing an accident. There are fears that manually driven cars will increasingly be looked at as the guilty party in these accidents, but until self-driving cars are more readily available and the law is changed to reflect them, we can only speculate.

How to claim for a self-driving car accident?

While unlikely right now, in a few years, these accident claims will pop up more and more. If you have been involved in a road traffic accident with a self-driving car, you should first ensure you’re fit and well by seeing your doctor for a check-up. You should then get in touch with a personal injury solicitor firm such as Fonseca Law and present your lawyer with as much information as possible, including medical records, any photos of the accident scene, any witnesses, and details of the self-driving car, such as model, make and the passenger/driver’s details. This way we can assess the claim and see if you have a chance to claim compensation.

If the manufacturer admits fault, you will likely receive a compensation package, but we may need to take the claim to court to face the manufacturer and let a judge decide, but because self-driving cars aren’t commercially available yet, we can only make a calculated guess as to how the claiming process will proceed.

Here at Fonseca Law, our personal injury solicitors are experts at dealing with road traffic accident claims, so if you’ve been injured in a road collision, please contact us today on 0800 156 0770, email or pop into our office based in Ebbw Vale, South Wales.