Self-Driving Vehicles Crashed in Driver-Assist Mode

Driver-Assist Mode Crash

The advanced autopilot functions in Tesla and other automobiles are supposed to be the next giant leap forward to driverless cars.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 400 Tesla crashes over ten months killed six people. NHTSA head Steven Cliff said the agency would use the data to propose new rules.

“These technologies hold great promise to improve safety, but we need to understand how these vehicles are performing in real-world situations,” he cautioned.

In about a third of the wrecks in this study, the Tesla or other vehicle was stopped when another vehicle hit it.

This study isn’t the first sign of trouble. In November 2021, Tesla recalled about 12,000 vehicles due to recurring problems with the software.

Responsibility in Driverless Car Crashes

Currently, driver error causes almost all the car crashes in New York.

Regarding driverless cars, like Teslas on autopilot, the responsibility varies among driver error, third-party criminal activity, and a defective product.

Driver error could be the primary factor in a driverless car crash. Usually, “driverless” is advanced driver assistance. True driverless cars would not have steering wheels or other driver controls.

Additionally, most driverless cars have user override features, so the operator can change a destination or a preferred route.

Almost no technology is hack-proof, and driverless technology isn’t hack-proof either.

Some people would disable driver assist systems just to see these vehicles crash. Dangerously designed roads also cause a handful of crashes, as do unexpected acts of nature, like lightning strikes.

Defective products cause most driverless car crashes. In the rush to get new products to market and make as much money as possible, occupant safety often gets lost in the shuffle.

Regardless of the cause, the injuries victims sustain in car crashes are much the same. These injuries include:

  • Head Injuries: Passenger safety has improved significantly since the 1990s. However, the risk of head injury is still very high. In these wrecks, front seat occupants’ heads smack into the airbag and then smack against the head restraint. That motion causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull.
  • Broken Bones: Air bags and seat belts limit some head and neck injuries, but they do nothing to prevent arm and leg broken bones. The force of a high-speed collision usually shatters these bones. That degree of injury means reconstructive surgery and extensive physical therapy.
  • Blood Loss: Exsanguination (excessive blood loss) is usually the official cause of death in coroner’s reports. The motion of a wreck causes the brain to slam into bone and internal organs to smash into each other. These organs have no protective skin layers. So, any such motion causes heavy bleeding.

True driverless cars may reduce the risk of a wreck, since they reduce the likelihood of driver error.

For this reason, builders will probably use lightweight materials to construct these vehicles. As a result, if they crash, occupant injuries will probably be worse.

Defective Product Claims

New York personal injury attorneys can obtain compensation for driver error vehicle collision victims if the other driver was negligent.

Defective product injuries are different. A dangerous product could injure thousands of people.

Therefore, a simple negligence standard isn’t high enough to protect people. Instead, companies are strictly liable for:

  • Design Defects: The 1970s Ford Pinto is perhaps the most notorious design defect in automotive history. To cut costs, engineers put the Pinto’s gas tank behind the rear axle and stripped it bare. Therefore, the gas tank often ruptured and exploded in rear-end wrecks.
  • Manufacturing Defects: Most vehicles are assembled in one location, but the parts and components come from all over the world. Many countries don’t have strict product safety standards. Additionally, there’s little guarantee that the different parts from different manufacturers will work the way they should.

Usually, strict liability means just that.

A New York personal injury attorney must only prove that the defective product caused the crash.

The unforeseeable misuse defense is the only effective defense in these claims.

The company must prove the victim used the vehicle in a completely unforeseeable way, like driving underwater.

Compensation in a defective product claim usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are usually available in these cases as well.

Usually, these companies are aware of the risk of defective product injury, and they ignore that risk.

All kinds of vehicle collisions normally cause serious injuries.

For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.