top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Whose Fault Is It If a Self-driving Car Hits a Pedestrian? | Autonomous Vehicle Claims

On 2nd October 2023, General Motors' Cruise autonomous vehicle dragged a pedestrian and pinned them under the tire in San Francisco, leading to serious injuries. While the introduction of self-driving vehicles is set to change the way car owners travel, it also poses certain risks to other road users, including pedestrians.

When a self-driving vehicle causes an accident resulting in injuries to a bystander or pedestrian, the victim is often left wondering if they're able to pursue any damages. Since autonomous cars are relatively new and largely unregulated, there is a lot of uncertainty in regard to compensatory damages.

The legal experts at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have helped many injured victims in Ohio, including pedestrians, recover financially and physically from their injuries. They have obtained more than $1 billion in compensatory damages and have decades of combined experience protecting the rights of the affected parties.

Pedestrians injured in self-driving car accidents in Cincinnati, Ohio, should reach out to the Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to discuss their case and learn more about their legal options. They can also help with questions like Do pedestrians always have the right of way in Ohio?

Understanding Self-driving Cars

Understanding Self-driving Cars

Car manufacturers have spent billions of dollars researching and introducing driver-assistance technologies in motor vehicles, such as backup cameras, blind-spot detection, and lane assistance. However, with the rapid advancement in technology, engineers are working towards making automobiles completely autonomous.

As of today, most of the motor vehicles on the road are not entirely autonomous. Although these cars do much of the work, vehicle manufacturers recommend that drivers keep hold of the steering wheel even with the self-driving capabilities switched on. This is because the technology is relatively new and requires more work, which increases the risk of accidents.

The Different Levels of Automation

According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, there are six levels of automation, and these are as follows:

  • Level 0: There is no automation, and the driver must operate the motor vehicle.

  • Level 1: Car manufacturers provide minimal assistance to drivers in the form of features, such as power brakes and steering.

  • Level 2: The motor vehicle has partial automation (cruise control), but the driver must still take control of the car.

  • Level 3: Cars have a good level of automation, allowing the vehicle to operate without the driver's control. However, automobile manufacturers recommend that drivers pay attention to the road and take action when required.

  • Level 4: Motor vehicles can operate without the intervention of the driver. However, drivers must be ready to take control.

  • Level 5: Fully autonomous vehicles do not need human drivers and can drive around without intervention or assistance.

While there are autonomous vehicles on the road, there is nothing that surpasses level three, as engineers still have to figure out how to get the automobiles to respond appropriately to the different situations on roads and highways.

Are Self-driving Cars Safe?

With the lack of data on the safety of existing self-driving vehicles, it's difficult to ascertain whether these types of automobiles are safer than regular cars. 

Another concern pertains to liability, as car manufacturers like Tesla have a stellar legal team ready to combat lawsuits at any time.

Whose Fault Is It If a Self-driving Car Hits a Pedestrian?

The parties that are typically liable for accidents involving self-driving cars are often the same as those responsible for motor vehicle crashes. These may include the following:

The Human Driver Driving the Self-driving Car

Since motor vehicles haven't reached the fully autonomous level and car manufacturers insist on human intervention, it is important for drivers to take control of their automobiles. Failure to exercise caution and acting negligently while driving can lead to a self-driving car accident for which the driver may be liable.

By relying too much on the vehicle's self-driving capabilities, drivers are taking extraordinary risks that they would generally not take while operating non-autonomous cars. It is an act of negligence, which can give rise to liability in the event of accidents.

The Self-driving Car Manufacturer

While the principles of negligence govern car accident claims against negligent drivers, product liability laws hold motor vehicle manufacturers responsible for injuries and deaths due to defective cars.

Suppose the driver is exercising caution but cannot take control of their automobile due to faulty components or wonky software. In that case, the motor vehicle manufacturer may be responsible for the self-driving car accident.

Unlike cases involving negligence, if an injured victim wishes to recover compensatory damages under product liability laws, they must prove that the vehicle was defective and the defect led to the self-driving car accident.

The Manufacturer of a Faulty Vehicle Component

Most car manufacturers purchase components from other manufacturers before assembling the automobiles. The third-party company is responsible for ensuring safe products, while the self-driving car companies must conduct safety checks and carry out due diligence to ensure they are not selling defective motor vehicles.

If a party suffers injuries in an autonomous vehicle crash due to defective components provided by a third party, they may be able to pursue a claim or lawsuit against the self-driving car company and the manufacturer that supplied the faulty product.

A Third Party

Accidents caused by driverless cars often involve negligence by human drivers. However, in some cases, a third party, such as a dealership, repair shop, or another company, may be liable for the damages caused.

A Government Entity

An accident involving an autonomous vehicle could occur due to a government entity's negligence. 

The lack of street signs, warning boards, defective traffic signals, and poor conditions can cause driverless cars to crash. If that happens, the relevant government department may be responsible for the injuries caused.

Pursuing Compensation After a Self-driving Car Accident in Ohio

Pursuing Compensation After a Self-driving Car Accident in Ohio

Although self-driving cars with automated driving systems are the future, the lack of regulation and relatively new technology has made these types of automobiles extremely dangerous. Even if the human driver is careful, there may be other parties acting negligently, resulting in catastrophic accidents.

Pursuing a self-driving car accident claim can be challenging, especially without legal representation. Car manufacturers have pedestrian injury lawyers in Cincinnati who are ready to fight the injured victims and strip them of their rights. It's crucial for the affected party to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are not afraid to go to war against large car companies and their lawyers. They understand how an automated driving system works and can assess the facts surrounding the case to determine the liable parties. They can also advise on the statute of limitations for a pedestrian accident in Ohio.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Are Ready to Go to War Against Negligent Self-driving Car Manufacturers!

Those who have suffered injuries in Autonomous vehicle crashes in Cincinnati, Ohio, should call to schedule a free consultation with the experienced Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, as they may be eligible for compensation!


bottom of page