If you were injured in an accident in Missouri or Kansas that was caused by a self-driving car, you likely are wondering who is responsible. Is the driver of self-driving car at fault, or the manufacturer of the car?  The answer depends on several factors.  Different parties may be liable for causing a crash with a self-driving or autonomous vehicle depending on the circumstances.

The technology used in motor vehicles is rapidly changing.  Most new cars on the road in Kansas and Missouri have some type of semi-autonomous or driver-assisted technology.  If the technology in the car fails and causes an accident, the manufacturer could be held responsible.  If the driver failed to operate the technology in a safe manner, then the driver be liable as well. 

Our experienced Kansas City car accident attorney will help you navigate these complicated legal issues and protect your rights to receive the compensation you deserve.  Call us today for a free consultation at 816-203-0143.

Overview of Missouri and Kansas Self-Driving Car Regulations

Due to the rapid changes in driver-assisted technology, Missouri and Kansas laws and regulations governing self-driving cars will continue to evolve.  However, under both Missouri and Kansas laws, a variety of parties may be held liable, including:

  • self-driving car and driver on roadThe Driver.  The driver of the self-driving car could be held liable under the legal theory of driver negligence. If the driver is distracted by the technology, not using it properly or not paying attention to the road, they would be responsible for any damages.
  • Business Owner.  If the car is owned by a business, that business may be held liable if the vehicle was being used by a negligent employee or agent who was acting on behalf the business. 
  • Manufacturer. The vehicle manufacturer may be held liable if the technology is defective or otherwise dangerous and this causes the crash.  For example, the manufacturer would be at fault if the crash was caused by a failure with the car's Autonomous Driving System (ADS).
  • Other Companies.  Under product liability laws, any other company in the vehicle's "chain of distribution" could be liable. This includes companies who may have been involved in installing or maintaining the technology in the car.

So, if you're involved in an accident with a self-driving car, many different types of potential parties could be held liable. However, it will ultimately depend on the specific circumstances of the crash.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Self-Driving Car Accident?

If you are injured in a crash with a self-driving car that was caused by a negligent party, you are entitled to recover damages for your injuries and other losses.  You could recover damages for:

Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to recover punitive damages in a self-driving car accident.  Punitive damages are designed to hold the wrongdoer accountable and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.  To recover punitive damages, you would need to show that the other party acted with willful or wreckless disregard for your safety.


How to Determine Liability in a Self-Driving Car Accident?

Figuring out who is liable in a self-driving car accident can be complicated.  The answer depends on what exactly caused the crash, and this can be difficult to determine without assistance of experts who can investigate the circumstances and the impact of the self-driving technology.

An investigation should focus on several factors, including speed, road and weather conditions, any mechanical or technological failures or maintenance issues related to the vehicle, and whether either party involved was negligent.  Witnesses can be called in to help prove negligence claims, and data from onboard vehicle sensors can be collected and analyzed.

An insurance company will investigate the accident to determine who's liable.  However, the insurance company is not your legal representative and they do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.  That’s why it’s important to speak with our experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident involving a self-driving car. Ultimately how liability is determined in this type of accident will depend on what information is collected and how it’s interpreted.

Our Experienced Kansas City Car Accident Attorney Can Help

If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a self-driving car in Missouri or Kansas, you want someone knowledgeable on your side. These cases are complicated and our experienced accident attorney will give you the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve.

Call our office today at 816-203-0143 or reach out through our online contact form for a free consultation. Our Kansas City car accident attorney will help you determine who is at fault and what next steps to take.  You can also instantly download our free book Crash Course: 9 Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Accident Claim.  We’re here for you, and ready to help!


Kevin J. McManus
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Kevin McManus is an accident injury and disability lawyer in Kansas City, MO, and Overland Park, KS
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