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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

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

Accidents involving self-driving cars are becoming increasingly common. With the rise of autonomous vehicles, there are now more questions about who is responsible when a self-driving car hits a pedestrian.


The future of self-driving cars is highly anticipated. As automotive engineers and car companies push towards fully autonomous vehicles, accidents involving self-driving cars are now a reality.


These crashes have brought about various legal issues as experienced personal injury attorneys try to navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding autonomous vehicles. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help with questions like, "How does workmans comp work when u have 2 jobs?"


Determining Liability in Self-driving Car Accidents

Determining Liability in Self-driving Car Accidents


While self-driving cars are expected to reduce road crashes, accidents involving these vehicles can still happen.


In a car accident, determining liability or fault is crucial. The question of fault becomes even more complicated when it involves self-driving vehicles, as it may be challenging to determine who is responsible for the primary crash.


Did a human driver in a conventional car rear-end the self-driving car, or was it because of a faulty autopilot mode that failed to brake in time?


In the case of a self-driving car accident, liability could be attributed to different entities. It could be the fault of the vehicle's manufacturer, the human driver, or the software engineer responsible for working on the autopilot feature.

  • Vehicle Manufacturer

The manufacturer may be liable if the self-driving vehicle accident was due to a car's automated driving system defect.

  • Software Engineer

If the automated driving system was turned on and acting up during the accident, the responsibility might fall on the car's software engineer.


The engineer is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the blind-spot detection feature and automation system (during the testing phase). Any product liability proven through investigation will shift the blame onto the software specialist.


These individuals have a duty to ensure that the technology in a self-driving car is safe and reliable. If they fail, they may be liable for any damages or injuries caused by the self-driving car accident.

  • Human Driver

However, if the car was in autopilot mode, but the driver failed to intervene when necessary, the person operating the vehicle may be at fault. The driver is responsible for being alert and prepared to control the car in an emergency.


In Texas, determining fault in an autonomous vehicle crash can be tricky. The state's laws have not yet caught up with the technology, and no specific regulations govern fully autonomous cars.


However, Texas's negligence laws still apply, which means that a person or company can be responsible for their intentional/unintentional actions that cause harm to others.


Are Self-driving Cars Entirely Driverless?


One misconception many people have regarding self-driving vehicles is that they are entirely driverless. Autonomous cars have self-driving features, but an actual driver is still essentially needed for the vehicle to operate.


Until the mass production of fully autonomous vehicles become a reality, it is up to drivers and vehicle manufacturers to ensure that driver error is minimal and that the roads are safe for everyone.

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), human error is responsible for 94% of all self-driving crashes.


Seeking Compensation for a Self-driving Car Accident


Autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, have become a hot topic recently. Companies such as BMW, Audi, and other car manufacturers worldwide invest heavily in developing this technology.


Tesla vehicles are a prime example of autonomous vehicles' potential risks and liabilities. With their self-driving capabilities, accidents involving driverless cars have become increasingly prevalent.


While Elon Musk, the company's CEO, argues that the self-driving feature is safe and that human error is to blame for accidents, the car's manufacturer can still be liable for defects or malfunctions.


Regarding fault in self-driving car accidents, there are two main legal concepts to consider:

  • Comparative Negligence

  • Contributory Negligence

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that assigns fault proportionally between parties in an accident. The settlement is awarded according to the liability percentage of each driver.


On the other hand, contributory negligence bars any compensation for the plaintiff if they are found to have contributed to the accident, even if it was only 1%. This strict rule makes it more challenging for the injured driver to secure reimbursement, especially if they are at fault. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help with questions such as, "What are the most common causes of pedestrian accidents?"


Victims of self-driving car accidents may feel overwhelmed by the complexity of these cases. However, an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can guide them through the legal process and determine who is at fault, ultimately deciding who is liable for the damages in the self-driving car accident.


What to Do After a Car Accident

What to Do After a Car Accident


Texas rules regarding fully autonomous vehicle accidents are still evolving, and it is essential for victims to consult with a qualified lawyer to discuss their cases. The following points are specific steps that injured drivers should take to protect their rights in a self-driving car accident in Texas:

  • Seeking medical attention: The victims' health and safety should be their top priority after a driverless vehicle accident.

  • Calling the police: The human operator should also report the autonomous vehicle accident to the police and get a copy of the police report.

  • Gathering evidence: Victims must take photos of the accident scene and any damages or injuries.

  • Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney: Plaintiffs should discuss the case with a knowledgeable lawyer who can advise them on their legal rights and options.

Final Words


The future of transportation is exciting and promising, but it also presents new and complex legal challenges. As self-driving cars become more common than human-driven cars, the liability issue in accidents involving these vehicles will become more pressing.


Victims of autonomous car crashes need experienced and knowledgeable lawyers to help them navigate the legal system. They need attorneys who understand the intricacies of self-driving vehicle accidents and can fight to protect their rights.


Plaintiffs should not assume that just because the accident involved a self-driving car, it will be straightforward to determine fault. An experienced attorney can advise clients on the best course of action to secure the compensation they are entitled to.


Chanting “We Go to War for You” as its slogan, Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys offers free consultation sessions, which plaintiffs can take advantage of to discuss their issues on a case-by-case basis.

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