Can technology shield a negligent driver from liability?

Technology features are helping drivers to behave more responsibly on the road. Automatic braking features can fill in the gaps left by a driver’s faulty braking decisions, and even artificial intelligence systems may help achieve better driving records. 

Yet technology cannot serve as a safe haven for negligent driving behaviors. If a crash was avoidable save for the other vehicle’s actions, the crash victim has a right to seek compensation. To the extent that a car was under the control of a self-piloting computer system at the time of the crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that the software would be deemed a driver, for purposes of federal law. 

Persuading a civil jury of another driver’s negligence generally requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence. As a law firm that has helped many victims of car and truck crashes, we know that this burden sometimes requires careful trial strategy. 

A careless driver may attempt to deflect fault, perhaps citing safety features. Yet even negligent maintenance may have impeded a driver’s ability to be safe behind the wheel, such allowing tire-pressure to run low. A driver may also have overridden a self-driving system or automated system. 

Federal regulations may be struggling to keep up with technological advances in cars, but the process of preparing a negligence lawsuit remains the same. Our lawyers will review police reports, eyewitness accounts, and any data available from the car’s computer system. Our relationships with experts can also reconstruct crash scenes and interpret other evidence, such as skid marks.

Source: Washington Post, “The big question about driverless cars no one seems able to answer,” Brian Fung, Feb. 17, 2016

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