Victims of Self-Driving Car Accidents

Technology surrounding cars has experienced a major boom in the last ten years. We’ve come so far that self-driving motor vehicles aren’t just a fever-dream but are a reality. For many, these self-driving vehicles are a symbol of the future. Manufacturers hope to eventually replace the standard vehicle with self-driving ones in hopes it will increase accidents nationwide.

However, it’s important to understand the technology behind self-driving cars hasn’t been perfected. The vehicle’s mechanics and “AI” are still in development and may be subject to error. Despite this knowledge, car manufacturers are still testing out these self-driving automobiles on the state of Washington’s public roads. That means any person could potentially be involved in a self-driving car collision if the vehicle malfunctions.

If you or someone you love has been a victim to a self-driving car accident, it’s within your best interest to contact a skilled attorney as you may be entitled to compensation.  

Self-Driving Car Accident Attorney in Whatcom County, WA

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a self-driving car accident, consult the product liability attorneys at PNW Trial Lawyers. Our legal team at PNW Trial Lawyers is well-equipped to litigate any defective product case including those involving self-driving cars. Their in-depth knowledge of the industry as well as the statutory laws can give you an advantage when stepping in that courtroom. To learn your legal options in detail, call the car accident attorneys at PNW Trial Lawyers.

Set up your first consultation with PNW Trial Lawyers by calling our offices at (360) 483-5201. PNW Trial Lawyers is located in Bellingham, but accepts clients throughout the greater Whatcom County, Skagit County and Snohomish County area.

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How Driverless Cars Work

Generally speaking, self-driving or self-automated motor vehicles use a combination of robotic technology and machine learning, which is an artificial intelligence tool. Although there are many iterations of self-driving vehicles, most use a mixture of this software to navigate their surroundings. The software will usually include coded rules, obstacle algorithms, as well as predictive modeling. It will also manage sensors and GPS information about the driving environment, which the vehicle will in turn analyze and then interpret that data to make a decision to manipulate the car.

The following are four key sensors that are vital to self-driving vehicles.

  • Image Sensors – With cameras the sensors are able to read traffic signs and keep a list of possible obstacles, vehicles, and pedestrians
  • Ultrasonic Sensors – These sensors use sound waves to detect the position of obstacles and the road’s curb.
  • LiDAR Sensors – The vehicle uses laser beams to identify fine details of the car’s environment such as the edges of the road or reflectors.
  • Radar Sensors – Using radio waves, these sensors are placed around the perimeter of the vehicle and track other vehicles in real time.

The Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE) have defined five levels of driverless automation. Manufacturers use these levels to determine how automated a self-driving car is.

  • Level 5 | Full Automation – The vehicle’s systems are fully autonomous at all times. Drivers can choose to not control the vehicle and should be able to rely on the car.
  • Level 4 | High Automation – Under specific conditions, the vehicle is fully autonomous. In this case, the driver does not need to be in control of the vehicle.
  • Level 3 | Conditional Automation – “Safety-critical functions” are fully automated in the vehicle in certain conditions. Drivers do not have to monitor safety risks but should be alert enough to take control of the vehicle when needed.
  • Level 2 | Partial Automation – Vehicles in control of both steering and braking/accelerating under some circumstances are level 2. The driver must be alert and perform other driving tasks in a level 2 self-automated vehicle.
  • Level 1 | Driver Assistance – The vehicle will assist the driver with braking, accelerating and steering. However, the driver must be in control of the vehicle at all times.
  • Level 0 | No Automation

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What Companies Are Working on Driverless Cars?

There are currently several companies manufacturing and designing driverless cars with various levels of autonomy. Most companies are simply testing their products and are not able to release them in the U.S. yet. However, some self-automated vehicles are on public roads and even provide transportation services. Some examples of existing self-driving cars include:

  • Volvo – The company has recently incorporated autonomous driving features for many of their automobiles, including automatic braking. They claim their first unsupervised autonomous cars will be available sometime in 2021.
  • Tesla – What many would say is the “face” of self-driving cars, Tesla offers several vehicles with self-driving features. The Model S and Model X both have a semi-autonomous driving system known as “autopilot.” The features include self-steering, parking, and changing lanes without direction from the driver.
  • Waymo – Google is now offering driving technology under a company named Waymo. They are currently testing their fully autonomous vehicles and offer a commercial service called Waymo One, which transports passengers with self-driving cars.
  • May Mobility – May Mobility offers a fully automated shuttle service in Michigan.

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Who is Responsible for an Accident Caused by a Driverless Car?

Self-driving vehicles are definitely illustrate how far we’ve come with technology, but they could still potentially cause a serious accident. Victims of driverless car accidents can choose to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer if there is evidence the product’s defect was the reason for the accident.

However, if you’re planning to do this it’s highly recommended you seek legal counsel. The fully automated vehicle industry is incredibly complex and the statutory rules/regulations for personal injury law are just as complicated. It’s best to have an experienced attorney on your side with extensive experience with self-driving cases. They can apply their knowledge in both the automobile industry and personal injury law for your case to ensure you receive the best possible outcome.

If you’re able to sway the court the company’s defective product led to your injury, then you may be given a monetary award. The settlement will be calculated by the court and is determined by your losses due to the injury. Listed below are some possible damages you may recover after a self-driving car accident lawsuit. 

  • Medical bills
  • Current and future rehabilitation costs
  • Lost income
  • Loss of future wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment for life

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Additional Resources

Self Driving Cars Won’t Go Mainstream Until We Solve This Problem | Forbes – Visit the official website for the editorial publication Forbes, to read an article by James Morris detailing the ethics around autonomous vehicles. Access the article to learn what ethical and moral dimensions a fully automated car must learn to become safe for consumers. 

Self-Driving Cars | Consumer Technology Association – Visit the official website for the Consumer Technology Association to read their articles on self-driving vehicles. Access the site to read an article about how General Motors Chairman and CEO, Mary Barra, is leading the company to autonomous mobility with little emissions, crashes, or congestion.

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Driverless Car Accident Lawyer in Bellingham, Washington

If you or someone you love has been injured in a self-driving car accident, then look no further than PNW Trial Lawyers for guidance. Our attorneys have the experience to protect your legal rights and can hold the liable party accountable for their actions. We have collectively decades of experience assisting clients throughout the state of Washington and can do the same for you.

Call PNW Trial Lawyers now at (360) 483-5201 to set up your first consultation free of charge. PNW Trial Lawyers accepts clients throughout the greater Whatcom County area and surrounding counties including Skagit County and Snohomish County.

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