Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman changed its name to Wisner Baum in January 2023.

Self-Driving Car Accidents

Self-Driving Car Accident Lawyer

A self-driving car is no longer a futuristic idea – if you live in a major city, it is possible that you have already seen one, perhaps without even realizing it.

Dozens of states have passed legislation related to the operation of autonomous vehicles with more to follow. Many of the world’s leading auto manufacturers and technology companies, including General Motors, Ford, Daimler-Bosch, Tesla, Waymo, BMW and Volkswagen, among many others, are investing billions of dollars in autonomous vehicle (AV) research.

Are Self-Driving Cars Safe?

Proponents of self-driving car technology tout it as a game changer in transportation safety. Human error, after all, is one of the leading causes of truck accidents, car accidents and bus accidents. Automated driving takes away the possibility of human error by instead relying on computers, sensors, artificial intelligence, and algorithms.

However, taking human drivers out of the equation will create the potential for other safety issues. For example, will driverless vehicles be thoroughly tested before they are deemed safe by regulators? Could a rush to get robot-cars on our roads lead to preventable accidents?

Cyber-attacks affect millions of people each year. Will the computer operating systems for autonomous vehicles be protected from cyber-attacks?

What about software malfunctions?

Who is liable when self-driving vehicles cause an accident?

We hope the following information will be a useful resource for anyone harmed by a self-driving car accident. If you would like to speak with an experienced attorney about a driverless vehicle accident, the law firm of Wisner Baum is here to help you.

Our firm has handled thousands of transportation accident lawsuits on behalf of victims whose lives were turned upside down by negligence, vehicle defects and other safety issues. Across all areas of practice, our attorneys have won over $4 billion on behalf of clients.

Call (855) 948-5098 today for a free case evaluation.

How Do Driverless Cars Work?

To understand how driverless cars work, we need to define what “self-driving” actually means. The Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE) defines five levels of driverless automation:

  • Level 0 – No automation. Human driver is in control of 100% of the driving.
  • Level 1 – Driver assistance. A vehicle can assist the human driver with steering, braking and accelerating.
  • Level 2 – Partial automation. The vehicle can control both steering and braking/accelerating under some circumstances. Human driver must monitor the driving environment at all times and perform other driving tasks.
  • Level 3 – Conditional automation. A vehicle can perform all driving tasks under some circumstances, but human driver must be ready to take back control at the request of the automated system.
  • Level 4 – High automation. Vehicle systems can perform all driving tasks and monitor the driving environment in certain circumstances. The human driver does not need to pay attention under these circumstances.
  • Level 5 – Full automation. Automated vehicle is in control of 100% of the driving.

Driverless cars utilize several systems that work together to direct the vehicle. Sensors and GPS continuously update information about the driving environment. A central computing system analyzes and interprets all of the data, then makes decisions to manipulate the vehicle.

Robocars usually have some combination of four key sensors:

  • Ultrasonic Sensors: Use sound waves to detect the position of curbs and other obstacles. Often located in wheels, many newer model vehicles already use ultrasonic sensors, primarily for parking.
  • Radar Sensors: Placed around the perimeter of the vehicle, radar sensors use radio waves for tracking and monitoring of other vehicles in real-time.
  • Image Sensors: Using cameras, image sensors read traffic signs and keep track of other obstacles, vehicles and pedestrians.
  • LiDAR Sensors: Use laser beams to detect fine details of the vehicle’s environment, including the edges of roads and lane markings.

Injuries and Deaths Involving Self-Driving Cars are “Inevitable”

One of the purported benefits of autonomous vehicle technology is that it will reduce the number of accidents caused by human error. While we can only speculate on what impact driverless cars will have on traffic accidents, one thing is clear: a car, bus or truck accident can be devastating, regardless of whether it was caused by a computer or a human driver.

Driverless vehicle accidents have already resulted in several deaths. One 2018 fatal crash forced Uber to halt testing of its self-driving cars temporarily. Toyota and graphic chips manufacturer, Nvidia, have also been forced to halt testing due to accidents.

According to John Paul MacDuffie, director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, people are “inevitably” going to be injured and killed in the testing and improvement of autonomous vehicles.

“Any situation where you’re expecting the human and the computer algorithms to share control of the car, it is very tricky to hand that control back and forth.” MacDuffie said.

Constantine Samaras, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation, shares this view, noting that early testing of autonomous vehicle technology that involves differing roles for human drivers will be rife with confusion.

“This is a challenge for this transition to automation, where there’s this muddled mixture of human responsibility and robot responsibility,” says Samaras.

As the technology continues to improve, there is no reason to doubt that driverless vehicles will have a positive effect on reducing human error traffic collisions. However, it is unrealistic to expect that driverless vehicles are going to operate perfectly every single trip, especially in the early stages. Unfortunately, anytime the technology fails, lives will be put at risk.

Autonomous Vehicles and the Trolley Problem: Programming AI Ethics

The possibilities for self-driving vehicle accidents raise countless ethical questions. One of the most common is a modern variation of the trolley problem:

A car carrying three people comes upon three pedestrians crossing the street. There are two choices – to crash into a concrete barrier, killing all the occupants of the vehicle, or hit the pedestrians, killing them.

Which tragic scenario should an autonomous car choose?

the trolley problem: should you pull the lever to divert the runway trolley onto the side track?

In 2016, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) posed this scenario and others to millions of people around the world in an effort to gauge how humans would respond to decisions made by artificial intelligence (AI). While the Moral Machine experiment did see some consensus―people generally chose to save people over animals, save more lives over fewer, and prioritize young people over the elderly. Other responses varied in accordance with regional cultural norms and economic status.

The study was the first of many tests that will help inform how companies like Waymo, Tesla, and many others, program the AI for autonomous vehicles. Will these companies share the same ethical standards? Or will certain companies create AI that chooses one of the above scenarios while others make different choices?

If self-driving car companies do not have the same ethics standards for AI worldwide—the outcomes for accidents, and thus liability, will vary widely.

Who is Liable in a Self-Driving Car Crash?

The determination of liability in a driverless vehicle accident will require expert investigation and analysis. We have already seen some states create industry-friendly policies towards autonomous vehicles and police blame fatalities on the victims themselves, making it ever more vital that highly experienced trial lawyers advocate for anyone impacted by robocar accidents.

New laws and regulations governing self-driving cars have not yet been established nationwide. Self-driving car accidents include more variables than human driver vehicle accidents. Self-driving cars can use software and artificial intelligence created by one company, hardware such as sensors or cameras provided by another company, and vehicles manufactured by yet another. Any one, or all, of these companies could be responsible for a defective technology or product causing an automated vehicle crash.

A self-driving car lawsuit presents a multitude of different avenues to investigate and requires a great deal of dedication to unearth the true cause of the accident. That is why victims of self-driving car crashes need expert legal representation to bring all responsible parties to justice.

Self-Driving Car Accident Lawyers That Can Help

The transportation accident attorneys at Wisner Baum have been following the development of autonomous vehicle technology from its infancy. If you or a family member have been injured or killed in a self-driving car crash, our team of lawyers, led by Board Certified trial attorneys, can help you obtain justice and compensation.

Victims of self-driving vehicle accidents may receive compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Home healthcare
  • Personal injury
  • Emotional pain or trauma
  • Disability
  • TBI
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death

We understand that life after an accident is never easy, especially when you factor in rising medical bills and a diminished income to pay them. Rest assured that we will do everything in our power to get you and your family on the road to recovery.

Call us today at (855) 948-5098 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Contact Us Today

No Fees Unless We Win
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • +1
    Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please enter your city.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto Co. $2 Billion
  • Pharmaceutical Settlement $105 Million
  • Whistleblower Settlement $18 Million

    $18 million settlement for Boeing government overcharging on aircraft maintenance

  • A Major US Plane Crash $17.5 Million
  • Commercial Truck Accident $15 Million

    $15 million settlement for a person gravely injured by a major truck company

  • Commercial Truck Accident $8.5 Million

    $8.5 million wrongful death verdict against food industry company, Tyson Foods

  • Best Law Firms 2023
    Best Law Firms 2023

    A ranking in The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” is widely regarded by both client and legal professionals as a significant honor. It is considered the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals anywhere.

  • The Truck Safety Coalition
    The Truck Safety Coalition

    Wisner Baum is proud to be a sponsor of The Truck Safety Coalition, a a group of caring individuals dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes. Our support enables them to help families and save lives.

  • California Powerhouse
    California Powerhouse

    Law360 recognizes law firms that have a strong regional presence, working on important matters within their home state. “[Wisner Baum] possesses a David v. Goliath-sized slingshot while seeking justice for everyday citizens it believes were harmed or killed through corporate wrongdoing.”

  • Elite Trial Lawyers
    Elite Trial Lawyers

    NLJ and American Lawyer Media honor law firms and attorneys as Elite Trial Lawyers for their cutting-edge legal work on behalf of plaintiffs in practice areas ranging from mass torts to securities litigation.

  • Listed in Best Lawyers
    Listed in Best Lawyers

    Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. A listing in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

  • AV Top Ranked Law Firm
    AV Top Ranked Law Firm

    Less than one-half of one percent of firms across the nation have achieved this ranking. A firm must have a high percentage of lawyers who have achieved the prestigious AV® Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell®.

  • Verdicts Hall of Fame
    Verdicts Hall of Fame

    The National Law Journal inducted Wisner Baum into the Verdicts Hall of Fame for obtaining the $2 billion landmark verdict in the Roundup cancer case of Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto. The verdict was #1 in California and #2 in the U.S. in 2019 and is #9 in American history.

  • Super Lawyers
    Super Lawyers

    Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100
    National Trial Lawyers Top 100

    The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 recognized the law firms of Wisner Baum, the Miller Firm and Audet & Partners with the 2019 Trial Team of the Year award (in the Mass Torts category) for their work in the groundbreaking case of Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto Company.

  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated
    AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated

    An AV® rating reflects an attorney who has reached the heights of professional excellence. The rating signifies the highest legal ability, and very high adherence to professional standards of conduct, ethics, reliability, and diligence.

  • Avvo 10.0 Rating
    Avvo 10.0 Rating

    Wisner Baum is proud to have all of its lawyers listed in Avvo, a legal directory connecting people in need of legal services with lawyers and connecting lawyers to lawyers. Eight of our attorneys have earned a 10.0 perfect rating with Avvo.

  • Top Jury Verdict in <br> CA and USA
    Top Jury Verdict in
    CA and USA ranks our $2 billion verdict in Pilliod et al. v. Monsanto as the biggest verdict in California and the second largest verdict in the U.S. in 2019. It is the ninth largest verdict in U.S. history.

  • Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers
    Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers

    Published annually, the Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers list recognizes the “best of the best” in this area of the law through nominations, research, and review by a board of their peers.

  • Product Liability Practice Group of the Year
    Product Liability Practice Group of the Year

    In 2020, Law360 honored the law firms ”behind the litigation wins and major deals that resonated throughout the legal industry.” It recognized our success in several landmark cases.

  • Top Personal Injury Jury Verdict in California
    Top Personal Injury Jury Verdict in California

    In 2018, our $289 million Johnson v. Monsanto verdict was the largest personal injury verdict in California. also ranked it #2 among all verdicts in California and #10 in the nation.

  • Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers
    Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers

    The Bar Register is the definitive guide to the most distinguished law firms in America. It includes only those select law practices that have earned the highest rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and have been designated by their colleagues as preeminent in their field.


Firm Reviews

What Our Clients Are Saying
  • I Can’t Imagine a Better Law Firm

    “Multiple lawyers recommended Wisner Baum to me and I have been consistently impressed with the quality of their work.”

    - Best Law Firms Survey
  • They Are About Changing the Systems...

    “Wisner Baum are not only amazing attorneys but more importantly, they are activists. They are about changing the systems which got us into trouble in the first place. They understand their role in the process of making change.”

    - Kim Witczak
  • Top Legal Minds in the Country

    “The Wisner Baum firm has some of the top legal minds in the country; they are driven, determined, trustworthy, ethical and passionate.”

    - From Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms
  • Diligent & Professional Representation

    “Thanks to your efforts I was able to recover from a tragic experience and turn my life around for the best.”

    - W.T.
  • Our Best Interest Was Always Number One on Your List

    “A special thank you to your Spanish-speaking staff for the extra effort put into this case. The language barrier was never a problem, and we are so very thankful to them. Your name holds much respect in our family.”

    - G.C. & C.C