New California Regulations Pave the Way for Self-Driving Delivery Vehicles. So What Happens if I’m Hit and Hurt by One?

Many forms of futuristic technology are becoming reality today. KCRA in Sacramento reported that new California regulations could allow companies to deploy self-driving delivery vehicles by the end of 2019. Another source reported on a pizza company, once famous (or infamous) for its fleet of youthful drivers racing down streets to delivery customers’ pizzas in “30 minutes or less,” that hopes to have robots and self-driving vehicles handling those home deliveries in some locations before the end of this year.

Modern technology is, of course, a wonderful thing… when it works. Unfortunately, Californians have already seen the consequences when self-driving vehicle technology fails. A 38-year-old Bay Area engineer died when his autonomous Tesla vehicle misinterpreted the lines on Highway 101 and steered the vehicle into a concrete barrier, killing the man. A pedestrian in neighboring Arizona died after an autonomous Uber vehicle failed to stop as she walked her bicycle across a road.

So, would you know what to do if you were injured in an accident caused by a self-driving vehicle? You might know generally that the law gives you an opportunity to sue, but it would also be entirely reasonable to think that you wouldn’t know exactly how to do that, including what to assert and who to sue. Your experienced California injury lawyer is there to help.

In many circumstances, the key to a successful case is showing that someone (or some entity) who owed you a legal obligation failed to do so, and that failure caused you to suffer an injury and damages. Historically, when an auto accident took place, the only possible source of liability often was the at-fault driver, unless you had evidence that there was an issue such as a manufacturing defect in the at-fault driver’s vehicle (such as faulty brakes or a malfunctioning accelerator.)

Discovering who was responsible, and it may be more than one entity

In a self-driving vehicle case, the options might be more numerous. That’s because there are more people and entities involved in making that vehicle drive, which means there are more entities that owe legal obligations to all the other drivers and passengers on the road. If you discover evidence in your case that the autonomous vehicle crashed into you because there was an error in the vehicle’s controlling software, then you may be entitled to sue and recover compensation from the software company.

If, as any IT person will tell you, the software functioned properly, then there may have been a hardware problem. Again, that hardware manufacturer has a legal duty to ensure safety. So, if the hardware made the vehicle unreasonably unsafe, then you may have a claim against that company.

Simply suing the manufacturer of the software or hardware that failed may not be your only recourse. On top of that, you may have a case against the business that used the flawed autonomous vehicles. Say, for example, you were hurt by a self-driving pizza delivery van that crashed into you due to a software error. If you were able to discover evidence, not only of the software problem, but also that the pizza company knew (or reasonably should have known) about the software problem and the dangerousness of its vans, then that could be proof of the pizza company’s negligence and its liability for your damages. That could, in turn, make both software maker and the pizza company liable to you for the harm you suffered.

In other words, you may be entitled to sue multiple entities and collect from all of them. As is true of many injury lawsuits, it often comes down the specific unique facts. And, many times, finding out all of those facts is the result of completing the discovery process properly. Many times, the difference between success and defeat can occur before your trial even starts.

To make sure you have everything you need for success in your case, from pre-trial to trial to post-trial, rely upon the diligent and effective San Mateo personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been providing skillful representation for many years in order help our auto accident clients realize positive results. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.