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California Accident Injury Trial Lawyers

Who Is Liable in a Car Accident with an Autonomous Vehicle?

The new technology associated with autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles has raised some legal questions among curious drivers. Is the driver or the vehicle responsible for a self-driving accident? Companies such as Uber and Toyota have withdrawn their autonomous vehicle fleets after pedestrian accidents involving vehicles in autonomous driving mode resulted in fatalities. Car manufacturers and technology companies such as Tesla and GM plan on testing self-driving vehicles with the hopes of automating the trucking and ridesharing industries, but the subject of liability still remains a debate.

Understanding Self-Driving Car Accident Liability

Many self-driving vehicles that are currently on the road require a human driver to still be inside. This human presence is what raises the complication of liability during accidents. In car accidents that involve a self-driving car, finding out liability actually works the same way with any other sort of car accident. The same questions need to be brought up, such as:

  • Which vehicle had the right-of-way?
  • Was a traffic law violated?
  • Were there multiple parties involved in the fault for the accident?

However, in self-driving accidents, the question of whether the driver of that car or the car manufacturer is responsible exists as a separate concern. If the accident involved a commercial vehicle, such as the pedestrian accident with Uber, the company’s insurance policy would take liability if the company’s driver or car was found to be at fault.

In non-commercial situations, however, insurance companies and injury courts will need more information, such as whether or not the AV mode was activated in the right location, if there was a software or manufacturing defect, or if the driver could have reasonably intervened to prevent the accident.

If you have been injured in an accident involving an autonomous or self-driving vehicle, the legal process of filing an injury claim can get difficult. Contact a San Luis Obispo personal injury attorney at James McKiernan Lawyers today for more information.

Helpful Fire Safety Tips for California Families

This summer has been one of the hottest summers for the state of California, and with this unbearable heat comes the sharp increase in wildfires throughout the state. Over the last few years, Cal Fire’s Fire Safety Education Programs have aimed to provide statewide education on fire safety. This education has been in the form of exhibits, posters, flyers, community meetings, radio and television spots, and even one-on-one contact with homeowners.

What Are Some General Fire Safety Tips?

Inside your home:

  • Regularly check your smoke detector battery. Many fire-related fatalities occur inside the home because a smoke detector is no longer working. Replace the battery every year to ensure that you and your family will have fair warning when a fire erupts.
  • Practice fire drills with your family. Inform your children that they should stay low when there’s heavy smoke in the house and to be careful with burning hot doorknobs. Your family should have a set fire escape route to ensure everyone gets out safely.
  • Have multiple fire extinguishers in your home. Have a large extinguisher in your kitchen and have small extinguishers in easy-to-spot locations upstairs and in the living area near any fireplaces.

Outside your home:

  • Create and maintain clearance around your home. Maintain 100 feet of “defensible space” when a wildfire begins. Also, make sure that your home is hardened with fire resistant building materials.
  • Cut weeds and dry grass. During the fire season when the humidity outside drops and the winds pick up speed, fire hazards increase. Weeds and dry grass should be kept to a low level in order to prevent a quick spread in case of a fire.
  • Follow appropriate guidelines for burning debris on your property. Always follow proper regulations for burning branches and other debris on your property. Also be cautious during campfires or while lighting fireworks.

If you would like more information on the California wildfires, or if you have been injured in a California fire, you should speak with a personal injury attorney. Contact James McKiernan Lawyers today for more information.


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