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FAQ: I WAS HIT BY A SELF-DRIVING CAR. HOW WILL THIS AFFECT MY CAR ACCIDENT LAWSUIT?
Autonomous vehicles are becoming more and more popular. But as companies like Google test more self-driving cars on major roads and highways, the number of self-driving car-involved accidents increases, too. If you have been involved in an accident with a self-driving car, you need a Los Angeles car accident attorney, and fast. At the offices of El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, our team of legal professionals can help you to understand how your car accident lawsuit will be affected, what steps you need to take to improve your chances of a favorable case outcome and more.
How Being Hit by a Self-Driving Car May Affect Your Settlement
While most of the elements of a car accident claim that involves a self-driving car will be very similar to the elements of a regular car accident claim in Los Angeles, there may be some delays based on the nature of the crash if a full investigation is necessary. In fact, reaching a settlement may take longer than normal in some cases, as determining the cause of the accident and determining liability may prove more complex.
- Determining cause. Following any accident type, the cause of the accident must be determined in order to determine who’s liable–legally responsible–for the damages. Indeed, the party who causes an accident through an act of negligence is responsible for paying for that accident.
With self-driving cars, though, determining the cause is often a lot more complicated than just talking to eyewitnesses or reviewing video footage of the accident. This is because autonomous vehicles are designed to not be involved in an accident. If an accident occurs that is due to a self-driving vehicle error, vehicle data must be reviewed to determine where the glitch occurred. In some cases, the “driver” of the self-driving vehicle (the party responsible for monitoring the vehicle’s systems and taking over manually if need be) may be found to blame if their actions caused or contributed to the crash.
- Liability. Once the cause of the accident is determined, the next step is determining liability – who should be responsible for paying for damages. Examples of parties who may be found liable in a self-driving car accident include the manufacturer of the vehicle; the party responsible for creating or maintaining the vehicle’s software; the company that owns the vehicle; the company that employs the “driver” of the vehicle; or the vehicle driver themselves. In some cases, the driver of the vehicle which was hit or another third party could be found responsible.
Of course, in addition to the above, other elements that may affect a settlement include any comparative negligence of the victim, the value of damages, the insurance coverage available, mitigation of damages, and the extent of evidence to prove causation.
A Self-Driving Car Company May Be Eager to Settle
While investigating the cause of a self-driving car accident may take more time than would the investigation of a standard motor vehicle accident involving two human drivers, a self-driving car company may be eager to settle quickly. In fact, the settlement between Uber and the family of a woman who was acting as a pedestrian when she was killed by an Uber autonomous vehicle was reached only a couple of weeks after the accident occurred, which is generally an unheard of settlement time. The desire to settle quickly may be fueled, in large part, by a company’s desire to avoid the potential ramifications of a full investigation; by offering a victim a settlement early, the company may actually end up saving money should an investigation highlight something egregious or should a case go to court.
All Other Rules Apply
Despite the fact that a self-driving car accident may be unique in the fact that one of the vehicles involved isn’t human-operated, the overall aspects of a self-driving car accident claim will be the same as those in a traditional motor vehicle accident claim. To be sure, many of the same rules apply, including:
- Statute of limitations. A lawsuit involving a self-driving car must be filed against the at-fault party within the state’s statute of limitations, which is two years in California. If a lawsuit if filed outside of this two-year time limit, a court will likely refuse to hear the case, and the victim will be unable to collect damages.
- Comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is as much of a consideration in an autonomous vehicle-related lawsuit as it is in a regular lawsuit. In California, the fault of a victim/plaintiff does not bar recovery, but a plaintiff’s damages will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.
- Elements of a claim. The four elements of a car accident/personal injury claim that a plaintiff is an autonomous car accident lawsuit must prove are exactly the same as are the elements in a regular claim, and include:
- Duty of care – the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care;
- Breach of duty of care – the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to them (acted negligently);
- Causation – it must be established that the accident would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence; and
- Damages – the plaintiff must present evidence of actual damages they have suffered as a result of the accident.
How Our Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
If you have been involved in an accident with an autonomous vehicle in our state, you may have dozens of questions about your legal rights, against whom to file a claim, how the investigative process works, and how long your case will take to settle. A Los Angeles car accident attorney can answer all of these questions and more. Our lawyers will review your case free of charge, build your claim, investigate your case and gather evidence, hire experts to work on your case, calculate your damages, negotiate your settlement, and file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.
To schedule your free consultation with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer from the office of El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, reach out to us today. We are here to serve you.
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So glad I went with Eldabe Ritter for my accident case. They kept constant communication with me, always answered my questions, and were very professional. In the end I got a great settlement. I didn't have health insurance so thankfully all my medical bills were paid. Everything was taken care of! Being in an accident can be very difficult to go through, but they definitely made the process a lot smoother! I'm referring all my friend and family here. Thank you guys!
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