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Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers 601 W Swann Ave Tampa, FL 33606 personal injury and car accident lawyer in Tampa

Self-Driving Car Accidents in Tampa, FL

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Self-Driving Car Accidents in Tampa, FL

Self-driving cars will someday replace drivers. These vehicles will be safer, more efficient, and less likely to crash than human-driven vehicles. However, technology has not yet reached this point. All cars currently approved for use on Florida roads require supervision by a human driver.

You might expect these vehicles to raise novel legal issues when they crash. But since all of these vehicles still require a human driver, you often have the same legal rights as in any other type of crash. 

After a self-driving car accident in Tampa, FL, Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you about your right to pursue compensation. Call our experienced Tampa car accident attorneys at (813) 223-6200 to schedule a free case assessment.

How Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You After a Self-Driving Auto Accident in Tampa, FL

How Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You After a Self-Driving Auto Accident in Tampa, FL

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers was founded in 2001 to represent injured clients in Tampa, Florida, against the people and businesses responsible for their injuries. Our Tampa car accident lawyers are known as The Aggressive Attorneys for their approach to injury cases.

If you suffer an injury due to someone else’s negligent or otherwise wrongful conduct, our attorneys can provide the following services:

Automated vehicle crashes can injure motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and passengers. Contact our Tampa personal injury lawyers to discuss your crash and the compensation you can seek for your injuries.

How Many Self-Driving Car Crashes Happen in Florida?

Over the 11 months from July 2021 through May 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received reports of 367 crashes involving vehicles with automated driving systems. Of the crashes reported by the NHTSA, 34 happened in Florida. The state had the second-highest number of crashes after California.

The NHTSA cannot confirm that all these vehicles were in automated driving mode when the crash happened. Most investigators rely on drivers and witnesses to report the circumstances of the collision instead of downloading data from a vehicle’s computer. As a result, they do not verify whether the driver was using driverless mode when the crash happened.

The NHTSA did not have much information about many of these crashes. Over 70% of the crash records came from the vehicle’s telematics rather than official accident reports. Self-reported crashes might record that the vehicle crashed but not what it crashed into. Of those with data, about 52% were multi-vehicle collisions, and 48% were single-vehicle crashes.

Causes and Liability For Self-Driving Car Accidents

To understand the causes and liability for self-driving car accidents, you must first understand what a “self-driving” vehicle currently does. 

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines six levels of automation:

  • 0 means no automation
  • 1 means driver assistance, such as cruise control
  • 2 means partial automation, such as lane tracking or emergency braking
  • 3 means conditional automation, meaning the car takes over in certain conditions
  • 4 means high automation, meaning the car usually drives itself without a driver
  • 5 means full automation, meaning the car always drives itself without a driver

Levels 0-3 require a human driver. Currently, most cars considered “self-driving” sit at level 2. The Mercedes-Benz with Drive Pilot has approval for a level 3 system, but only in California and Nevada. Thus, at best, Florida drivers will use and interact with level 2 systems.

Drivers cannot allow level 2 systems to drive themselves because they do not have the technical ability to do so. The driver must keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The car does not drive itself. Instead, the car automates part of the driving process for the human driver.

Causes of Level 2 Car Accidents

Causes of level 2 crashes fall into two broad categories. First, an automated driving system can malfunction. A system designed to follow lane lines might get confused in work zones or on wet surfaces with obscured lane lines and cause the car to pull to one side. If the driver fails to realign the car, it could hit another vehicle or a fixed object.

Second, driver errors can happen in level 2 vehicles, just as in non-automated vehicles. Careless drivers can override a level 2 system even after a warning. Thus, the driver might follow too closely despite warnings from a vehicle’s crash avoidance system.

Liability For Level 2 Car Accidents

The primary liability for level 2 crashes will fall on the driver. Even after activating the system, the driver must supervise it. Level 2 systems do not operate independently of the driver, and any driver who allows it to operate independently has failed to exercise reasonable care. As a result, the driver will likely bear the liability for any resulting crashes.

On occasion, a defective system might contribute to a crash. In this case, a manufacturer might share the liability for injuries to crash victims.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Tampa Self-Driving Car Accident Lawyers

Car accidents can cause injury and death, even when the other vehicle uses self-driving mode. Contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers at (813) 223-6200 for a free consultation to discuss your injuries and the financial compensation you can seek under Florida law.

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