What Happens if I’m Injured by a Driverless Car in Southern California?

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As more cars with automated features hit the roadways of southern California, you may wonder how the presence of these vehicles will affect the auto accident claims process. Discuss your case today with a knowledgeable auto accident lawyer.

The scene of a car accident tends to be chaotic and overwhelming, especially when injuries are involved. As the drivers involved in the incident seek medical attention, notify law enforcement, and exchange insurance and contact information, there are several steps to think about during this stressful time. However, what happens when the incident involves a driverless or automated vehicle? As more cars with automated features hit the roadways of southern California, it’s natural to wonder how the presence of these vehicles will affect the auto accident claims process. If you’ve suffered an injury in a car accident caused by autonomous driving features, contact a skilled and experienced Temecula auto accident lawyer right away to discuss your case. Together, you can take the necessary steps to pursue and secure the compensation you need to support your recovery.

Common Causes of Self-Driving Vehicle Collisions

As more vehicles with automated features are hitting the market, it’s important to recognize potential hazards and issues that could lead to a crash. Below are some of the most common risks that may contribute to a vehicle’s loss of control or increased likelihood of colliding with another car.

Failing to Identify Obstacles

One of the most common automated features in new cars is a sensor system that allows the vehicle to identify hazards and trigger the brakes if necessary. For instance, the sensors may detect a stop sign or object on the road and activate the brakes to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, these systems do not always function properly, leading the car to brake for no reason (and maybe causing the car behind them to rear-end the vehicle) or failing to detect a threat (like another car), leading to a crash. For now, California lawmakers remain hesitant to use the term “autopilot,” and they prefer human drivers to remain behind the wheel in the event of a misfiring of these sensor systems.

Defective Software and Manufacturing Issues

Although California consumers want to trust that the goods and services they buy are fully functional and safe, manufacturing defects do occur. Many automated vehicles must undergo regular software updates, and there may be issues with a particular upgrade. Even a minor coding mistake can lead to monumental consequences, so it’s best to check for safety recalls or similar announcements about these types of defects.

Driver Negligence

California requires drivers to remain alert behind the wheel at all times, even when automated features are engaged (like cruise control or other semi-automated functions). However, some drivers incorrectly assume that engaging a car’s autopilot mode means they can sit back and engage in distracted behaviors, like texting or scrolling through their phones. Should a hazard arise, distracted drivers will not have enough time to react to the issue, increasing the likelihood of a collision.

Steps to Take Following a Temecula Auto Accident

The moments after a car accident are often disorienting, especially if you have suffered an injury. However, there are several steps you can take to ensure your safety and set yourself up for filing a strong auto accident claim to secure the compensation you need to support your recovery.

Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible

First, check yourself and others at the scene for any injuries requiring a trip to the hospital. Call for an ambulance if necessary. Even if you do not think your injuries are significant enough to warrant immediate medical attention, you should still visit a doctor within the next day or so to receive an evaluation. The medical records established by your visit will help you compile a strong and thorough auto accident claim, as you can point to the nature and extent of the injuries you suffered at the hands of the at-fault driver.

Notify Local Law Enforcement

If the car accident led to injuries, you should contact local law enforcement so the responding officer can arrive at the scene and create a police report. This document serves as an objective account of the incident, including any relevant factors (i.e., an intoxicated driver, poor road conditions, etc.) that may have played a role in causing the crash. When you move forward with your auto accident claim, you can include a copy of the police report to substantiate your position.

Work With a Trusted and Experienced Murrieta Attorney

Although California does not require injured victims to work with an attorney when filing a car accident claim, doing so is highly recommended. Your attorney can help you identify the at-fault party (or parties), especially if automated driving features are involved. For instance, you may determine that a software defect and the driver’s inattention both contributed to the accident—meaning you may pursue compensation from two parties. Whatever the specifics of your situation may be, you can trust that your attorney will work hard to develop the most strategic path forward to secure you the compensation you need to get your life back on track.


If you need help collecting compensation following an auto accident in Temecula or Murrieta, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to speak with a dedicated and caring car accident lawyer.

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