Who Is Liable for a Self-Driving Car Accident in Virginia?

Self driving car on a road

With the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology, self-driving cars are becoming increasingly popular on Virginia roads. While these vehicles offer the potential for enhanced safety and efficiency, accidents involving self-driving cars still occur. When a collision happens, it is imperative to determine who is liable for your injuries, such as the driver, the manufacturer, the software company, or others. Working with a car accident lawyer in Virginia helps your chances of success in recovering the damages you incurred due to negligence. 

At Waterman Law Centers, PLLC, we know how to determine liability in self-driving car accidents as we consider numerous factors, such as manufacturer defects, owner or operator negligence, occupant misconduct, or even potential government liability. As self-driving car technology continues to evolve, laws and regulations surrounding liability remain complex. We help you navigate the intricacies of self-driving car accidents and protect your rights throughout the legal process. 

6 Potentially Liable Parties in a Self-Driving Car Accident in Virginia 

Determining liability in a self-driving car accident is more complex than in a traditional car accident. Through comprehensive investigations, Waterman Law Centers, PLLC, will assess the fault of one or more of the following parties: 

  • The operator: The operator of an autonomous vehicle is liable if his or her input is negligent. For example, the operator failing to engage or monitor the self-driving vehicle properly can import liability.
  • The owner: The owner of the self-driving vehicle is liable if he or she was negligent in maintaining or modifying the vehicle or in entrusting the vehicle to another operator. For instance, if the owner fails to install necessary software updates, alters the vehicle’s autonomous systems in a way that compromises safety, fails to take over controls, or ignores warning signals not to drive. 
  • The manufacturer or software company: In cases where an accident occurs due to a defect or malfunction in the self-driving car’s hardware or software, the manufacturer could be liable for damages. If it is proven the accident was caused by a design flaw, a manufacturing defect, or inadequate warnings or instructions, the victim is able to pursue a product liability claim. 
  • Vehicle occupants: In certain situations, liability also extends to the occupants of the self-driving car. If an occupant interferes with the vehicle’s autonomous functions or engages in reckless behavior, he or she could be considered partially or fully liable for damages. 
  • A third-party: Another vehicle operator can be liable for a self-driving car accident if he or she did not abide by laws and regulations, such as speeding, running a red light, or driving recklessly.
  • Government entity: If an accident involving a self-driving car occurs due to the negligence of a government entity responsible for maintaining road infrastructure, such as faulty traffic signals or poorly designed roads, you are able to seek a claim against a city or state entity. 

When it comes to liability in Virginia, you must bear no fault for the accident. Under the contributory negligence rule, you are barred from recovering compensation for damages if you are found to have been a cause of the accident, even if another party was more at fault. This is why you must seek the legal guidance of a Virginia car accident lawyer. We help protect your rights and interests so you are able to recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact an Award-Winning Car Accident Lawyer at Waterman Law Centers, PLLC 

If you were harmed in a self-driving car accident, you need an award-winning lawyer at Waterman Law Centers, PLLC, who helps navigate the intricate legal process and determines liability in such complex cases. Attorney Avery T. “Sandy” Waterman, Jr., Esq. was named to The Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury during 2007-2024 and was voted its “Lawyer of the Year” for Personal Injury by his peers in Southeast Virginia in 2022; and Waterman Law Centers has been listed as a Metropolitan Tier 1 Best Law Firm for Personal Injury in U.S. News & World Report for 2021-2023.

Schedule a no-cost consultation today by calling (757) 881-9881 or filling out a contact form.