woman rests while her car drives itself

As self-driving technology advances and manufacturers of vehicles with driverless operation fine-tune their cars’ capabilities, these vehicles have become increasingly prevalent on Missouri roads in recent years, and their numbers will only continue to rise.

Unfortunately, while autonomous vehicle technology is improving, it’s far from perfect. Autonomous cars can’t handle every possible condition and hazard they may encounter. And since most cars don’t use advanced driver assistance systems, the ones that do still have to deal with the unpredictable nature of the human drivers around them.

As a result, self-driving car accidents still happen despite these vehicles theoretically being safer. When autonomous vehicle accidents occur, who’s responsible for the resulting injuries? If you suffered injuries in an accident with a self-driving car, you need our skilled car accident lawyers to help you pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and other losses.

Sumner Law Group, LLC, has over 50 years of combined experience representing injured people in Missouri. Contact our law office for a free consultation if you’ve suffered injuries in a self-driving car crash. We will evaluate your case, explain your legal options, and answer your questions at no cost to you.

Choosing the Right Lawyers After an Autonomous Vehicle Crash

Experience is the most important factor when choosing an autonomous vehicle accident lawyer in St. Louis. You want an attorney with a track record of successfully negotiating settlements and winning trials for their clients in car accident injury cases.

The Sumner Law Group, LLC’s lawyers are prepared to:

  • Investigate your case to determine what happened
  • Gather evidence to prove who was at fault
  • File your self-driving car injury claim
  • Work with experts, such as crash reconstruction specialists
  • Negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf
  • Seek the maximum amount of compensation at trial

Safety Concerns Involving Self-Driving Cars

Most safety concerns about self-driving cars result from these vehicles not being truly autonomous. A driver can’t engage their car’s autonomous mode and stop paying attention to the road ahead and their surroundings. They have to remain attentive to what’s going on around them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) outlines six levels of vehicle automation:

  • Level 0 – Momentary driver assistance, like warnings, alerts, and automatic emergency braking
  • Level 1 – Driver assistance, like adaptive cruise control and steering assistance to remain within lanes
  • Level 2 – Additional assistance, like being able to accelerate, brake, and steer with the driver’s full attention
  • Level 3 – Conditional automation, where the vehicle can handle all driving tasks under certain conditions but still may require human intervention
  • Level 4 – High automation, where the vehicle can handle all driving tasks under certain conditions and does not require human attention
  • Level 5 – Full automation, where the vehicle can handle all driving tasks under all conditions and does not require human attention

Currently, the autonomous vehicles available to the public only have up to Level 2 automation. A recent NBC News report highlighted the limitations of current self-driving technology. In the video, a self-driving car fails to spot and stop for a train crossing the road. The conditions were foggy, but the crossing lights and the train were still visible. If the driver hadn’t been paying attention, they would have been unable to avoid the crash.

How Self-Driving Car Accidents Happen in St. Louis

There are several ways self-driving car crashes happen, including:

  • The sensors don’t recognize a hazard on the road.
  • The sensors fail and can’t recognize a hazard on the road.
  • The sensors mistakenly spot a hazard and cause the vehicle to suddenly stop.
  • The sensors fail to recognize road lines, signs, traffic lights, and other warnings.

If you stop in front of a self-driving car due to traffic and its sensors don’t recognize that you stopped, it could rear-end you. If you’re driving behind a self-driving car and it suddenly brakes hard for no apparent reason, you could run into it. And if a self-driving car doesn’t recognize a stop sign, it could fly through an intersection and hit you. These are just some examples of situations where self-driving car accidents might occur.

Liability for Crashes Involving Automated Vehicles

Any time a car crash happens, there will be questions about fault. However, when one of the cars is autonomous, there may be even more questions. For example, who’s at fault if the car that caused the accident was in self-driving mode?

Depending on the specific circumstances of the autonomous car crash, there could be a few different parties liable for your injuries:

  • Drivers could be liable if they aren’t paying attention since all current self-driving technology requires drivers to be ready and able to intervene
  • Manufacturers could be liable if a sensor failure caused the crash
  • Software developers could be liable if the software’s failings caused the crash
  • Other drivers who drive erratically and cause the self-driving car to avoid them and crash could be liable
  • States or local governments could be liable if their failure to maintain the roads caused the crash

Potential Compensation for Self-Driving Car Accident Injuries

In Missouri, drivers injured in accidents can seek compensation for their economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include medical costs like surgeries, medical treatments, prescription medications, medical devices, and physical therapy. They can also include lost wages if you had to take time off work during your recovery or if you’re unable to work in the same capacity you could pre-injury.

Non-economic losses include physical pain and emotional suffering attributed to your injury, the loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent disability. A person may also file a claim for loss of consortium if their spouse was injured in an accident with a self-driving car.

How Our Attorneys Help People Hurt by Self-Driving Vehicles

If you’ve been injured in a crash with a self-driving vehicle, contact Sumner Law Group, LLC, for a free consultation to discuss your case with one of our experienced car accident attorneys. We’ll help you understand your rights and legal options when seeking compensation for your injuries.

Whether through negotiations with the insurance company or at trial, our team will fight for the compensation, accountability, and justice you deserve. Reach out today to get started.