TMCnet Feature
October 04, 2022

Who's At Fault In A Tesla Self-Driving Accident?

There is no doubt that the future of transportation is autonomous. While car manufacturers have made considerable strides in making this possible, some apparent technological flaws may require a few more years to iron out before driverless cars become the norm on American roads.

It Is a Selling Point

Tesla is a leading player in the production of cars featuring autonomous capabilities, famously known as autopilot. While Tesla insists the feature is not meant to replace the driver but to compliment them, it is known to control a vehicle with little to no human intervention. And most likely, you have seen videos on the internet with Tesla owners showing off their vehicles' autopilot capabilities.

"Tesla's autopilot is its most significant appeal and selling point," says car accident lawyer Felix Gonzalez, “Unfortunately, most Tesla owners trust the feature, which has sometimes turned out catastrophic.”

There has always existed a gray area on who is liable for self-driving Tesla accidents. But since Tesla does not claim to produce fully autonomous cars, there is a high chance that the driver will carry liability for the accident.

Man Charged With Manslaughter

This year, California prosecutors filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against Kevin George Aziz Raid, a Los Angeles resident, for a Tesla car accident that left two people dead in 2019.

The accident occurred at an intersection while the Tesla vehicle driven by Raid was on autopilot. Somehow Raid believed that its autopilot feature would bring the car to a stop at the red light, and for some reason, the autopilot failed.

The case, whose trial is set for mid-2023, will be a defining moment for driverless car accidents in the future.

Tesla Liability

While technology advances at terrific speeds, legislation for driverless technology still allows car manufacturers to use the loopholes in the law to use deceptive marketing tactics. Recently a court in Germany ruled that Tesla’s autopilot tag (News - Alert) is deceptive, meaning that Tesla could be liable for accidents that result from users' trust in the system.

There are situations where Tesla could be directly liable for accidents resulting from their system. For example, a software malfunction could make a car uncontrollable resulting in an accident. System hacking is also possible because of their extensive dependence on computers and the internet. Accidents resulting from such cases could see Tesla carry liability for the accident.  

Apart from a system malfunction, liability for accidents often lies on the driver. However, experts believe that as the technology and laws advance to a point where self-driving cars become fully autonomous, the responsibility of moving a vehicle from point A to point B will be totally on the vehicle's features. In other words, liability for car accidents involving autonomous vehicles will be on the manufacturers.

What to Do After a Tesla Self-Driving Accident

If you are injured in an accident involving a self-driving car such as Tesla and know you are not at fault, you may want to talk to a car accident lawyer to understand your legal options. But before getting to a lawyer, you could do a few things to increase the chances of a better outcome, such as getting medical help, documenting the scene, collecting witness testimonies and contacts, and the other driver's contact and insurance information.

If your injuries can't allow it, you can have your lawyer help you gather the information on your behalf.

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