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In the realm of technological advancement, self-driving cars have emerged as a groundbreaking innovation promising convenience, safety, and efficiency on the roads. However, with innovation comes the need for clarity in legal matters, particularly when accidents involving autonomous vehicles occur. If you find yourself navigating the complexities of a self-driving car accident in North Carolina, understanding the legal landscape is paramount. At Mehta & McConnell, we are here to guide you through the process with compassion and expertise. 

Self-Driving Cars in North Carolina

While data specific to North Carolina’s involvement in self-driving car testing may be less extensive than others, the state has been a part of the broader conversation surrounding autonomous vehicles. Though the technology may seem futuristic, there have already been a number of self-driving vehicle accidents across the state.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are multiple levels of automated vehicles, ranging from those with a few automated components to fully automated vehicles. Across the U.S. in 2021, cars with autonomous driving systems were involved in 130 crashes, with 16 of those resulting in injuries and 11 involving vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. Vehicles equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) were involved in 392 crashes that same year, resulting in six fatalities. 

What Are Your Rights If You Are Hit by a Self-Driving Car?

It’s important to note that North Carolina law requires all drivers, including operators of self-driving cars, to carry liability insurance coverage. This coverage is intended to provide financial protection for individuals injured in car accidents, including those involving autonomous vehicles. If you are hit by a self-driving car, you have the right to pursue a claim against the vehicle operator’s insurance policy to seek compensation for your losses.

In addition to seeking compensation through insurance claims, you can pursue legal action through a civil lawsuit if necessary. A personal injury lawsuit allows you to present your case before a court of law and seek damages from the at-fault parties. With the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney, you can navigate the legal process with confidence and work toward obtaining a favorable outcome for your case.

If a Self-Driving Car Causes an Accident, Who Is Liable?

The question of liability in self-driving car accidents is multifaceted. Unlike traditional accidents where human error is often the determining factor, accidents involving autonomous vehicles can involve various parties. Determining who is responsible for autonomous car accidents may involve the following parties.

Manufacturer Liability

In cases where the self-driving car accident stems from a defect or malfunction in the vehicle’s autonomous system, the manufacturer may bear liability. Issues such as sensor failures, software glitches, or inadequate safety protocols could attribute fault to the manufacturer.

Owner/Operator Responsibility

While autonomous vehicles operate with minimal human intervention, owners or operators are still responsible for ensuring the automobile is properly maintained and functioning. Negligence in maintenance or failure to override the autonomous system when necessary could contribute to liability.

Software Developers

In some instances, the software developers responsible for designing the software and systems guiding the self-driving car may share liability if the accident results from programming errors or algorithmic flaws.

Laws and Regulations for Self-Driving Cars in North Carolina

North Carolina, like many other states, is in the process of developing regulations specific to driverless car accidents. While comprehensive legislation is still evolving, current laws emphasize safety standards, testing protocols, and insurance requirements for autonomous vehicles. These laws aim to balance innovation with public safety while providing a framework for addressing accidents involving self-driving cars. North Carolina General Statutes §§20-400 to 20-403 outline key provisions related to autonomous vehicles, offering insight into how the state addresses this innovative mode of transportation, including:

  • Testing and deployment. Companies testing or deploying self-driving cars in North Carolina must adhere to specific regulations and obtain appropriate permits from the Department of Transportation.
  • Insurance requirements. Autonomous vehicle operators must maintain adequate insurance coverage to address potential accidents and liabilities resulting from self-driving car operations.
  • Data collection and reporting. Regulations may require companies testing autonomous vehicles to collect and report data related to accidents, near-misses, and system performance to inform future safety measures.

Laws in North Carolina are still evolving to handle these types of accidents, and it’s important to have expert guidance to navigate the legal process. If you or someone you know has been in a self-driving car accident in North Carolina, it’s crucial to seek help from experienced lawyers who understand the laws and can fight for your rights.

Seeking Legal Assistance After a Self-Driving Car Accident

If you or a loved one has been involved in a self-driving car accident in North Carolina, navigating the legal aftermath can be daunting. At Mehta & McConnell, we understand the complexities surrounding autonomous vehicle accidents and are committed to advocating for your rights and interests.

Our experienced team of attorneys specializes in handling a wide range of personal injury and accident claims, including those involving self-driving cars. We offer compassionate support and strategic legal guidance to help you navigate the complexities of your case with confidence.

By partnering with Mehta & McConnell, you gain access to legal expertise, personalized representation, and compassionate support. Let us help you pursue justice and secure the compensation you deserve during this difficult time. Contact us today.

Author Photo

Viral Mehta

Viral Mehta is the managing attorney of Mehta & McConnell Injury Lawyers, a Charlotte, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm. He enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, sports, and reading.

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