Autonomous motor vehicle accidents: Who must pay damages?

Autonomous cars have been present in Arizona since Feb. 2017. All went well until a recent Sunday when a self-driving Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian. This incident gave rise to many questions about motor vehicle accidents involving self-driving cars.

In this case, there was a driver behind the wheel, but the vehicle was in autonomous mode and navigating itself. Reportedly, the accident will be investigated in the same manner as any other traffic collision, and investigators will determine whether any violations of traffic regulations took place. While the insurance companies of those involved typically handle crashes involving injury, death and damage, this case may be entirely different.

A spokesperson for the Arizona governor says that, according to an executive order that was recently issued, autonomous cars in Arizona will be subject to the same laws as any other vehicle. The operation of self-driving vehicles must comply with the laws at all times. Instead of the driver being held responsible for negligence in a traffic accident, the company that operates the car might be liable.

Some unanswered questions deal with the surviving family members of a pedestrian who died after being struck by an autonomous car. An experienced motor vehicle accidents attorney might be able to shed some light on this gray area. The family will have to cope with the high costs of end-of-life arrangements, and possibly the loss of income along with other economic and non-economic losses. Legal counsel will know the latest laws and how to seek recovery of damages.

Source:, "After Uber crash, who is responsible when self-driving car gets in accident?", Griselda Zetino, March 21, 2018

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