What Is a Self-Driving Car Liability?

The use of self-driving cars is creating dramatic changes in the legal responsibility of driving, with an obvious motivation to reduce the number of traffic accidents. But what does this mean for you?

With the advancements in automobile technology, self-driving cars are becoming increasingly popular. But if you’re manning a driverless car, will you be responsible for any vehicle-involved accidents wherein someone else was injured or killed? 

In this article, you’ll gain a better understanding of what driverless cars are and what self-driving car liability is all about to keep you guided accordingly.

What Is A Self-Driving Car?

Self-driving involves the operation of “autonomous,” “smart,” or “driverless” cars. These vehicles are equipped with advanced hardware and software systems so they may run with very little human effort.

What Is Self-Driving Car Liability?

Self-driving car liability pertains to the liability that comes with accidents in which your own smart car was involved. 

Check out the following examples of self-driving car liabilities:

  • Tort Liability: This includes traditional negligence, wherein the driver of the smart car is held liable for harms or damages caused when caution was not taken while driving the vehicle. 
  • Product Liability: This pertains to the liability of smart car manufacturers in terms of strict liability (despite the driver of the driverless car taking all care possible to prevent such an accident) and negligence such as design defects and product defects. 
  • Imposing Liability: The victim or plaintiff can decide on the party to pursue involving an autonomous car accident, including the driver, the car manufacturer, or the company that developed the autonomous car technology

Self-driving car liability pertains to the liability that comes with accidents in which your own smart car was involved. 

Risks Of Self-Driving Cars

So, what are the risks that come with self-driving cars? First of all, if you’re responsible for another vehicle being involved in an accident with yours, then you’ll be liable for any injuries or property damage that have occurred as a result of your own negligence, even if you were not the driver. 

Here are the possible risks and liabilities that apply when driving autonomous cars:

  • Direct Liability: It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, just as long as you are at fault for any damage caused to another vehicle. If you were driving when the accident happened, you will be held liable, regardless if you were driving a driverless car or not. And if you were not at fault for the accident, then you will not be liable for any damages that occurred.
  • Paying Medical Expenses: In addition, if another vehicle was involved in an accident with yours, then you may be liable for any medical expenses that you caused resulting from the accident. 
  • Property Damage: You may be held liable for property damage that was the result of another car crashing into yours, but not for the damage that was the result of an accident in which you were the cause. This means that any damage that was the result of another car crashing into your car can be claimed by someone else, if you were not at fault. Keep in mind that it’s still important to know your rights when you’re involved in an accident. This video will tell you more about how lawyers can help you in such a situation, especially if it involves insurance companies.

  • Other Damages: You will have to pay all the other costs that are associated with any injuries suffered by the other party, such as lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses. 

Do You Need To Consult A Car Accident Lawyer When Involved In A Self-Driving Car Accident?

Consulting an experienced self-driving accident lawyer ensures the assertion of your legal rights in case of an accident. Firms such as Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. are available for personal representation. They will answer questions and provide you with all the necessary information needed regarding legal advice. 

Do Self-Driving Cars Change Your Premium Rates?

The answer is no. Most auto insurance companies consider the “recklessness” factor in calculating your premium rate. They will assess your driving history to see if you have had any incidents where you have been found to be irresponsible at any point in your driving career. If you have any tickets or accidents for speeding or driving under the influence, or any other similar offense, your premium will be increased. This is true no matter what type of car you drive. 


If you’re responsible for any vehicle-involved accident in which someone else was injured or killed, then you will be liable for damages. If you’re also responsible for damages to your own car, then you will be held accountable for any liability that involves your own car. It all depends on which party was at fault for the accident and on who you believe to be the liable party. In short, you could be held liable for any damages that you caused, whether you were in a self-driving car or not.

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