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Autonomous Vehicles: Liability in the Era of Intelligent Automation

March 5th 2024

Disclaimer:  The information provided in this blog post is intended for educational purposes and not legal advice. For specific legal inquiries, please consult an attorney. The information provided in this blog post is intended for the sole purpose of reconstructing accidents and injuries and not for serving as a risk management resource.

DID YOU KNOW?: Autonomous vehicles (AV) are expected to reduce traffic accidents by up to 90%, but as they integrate into our roadways, determining liability in accidents involving AI is an evolving legal challenge.

The rise of autonomous vehicles is revolutionizing the road, but it also complicates the attribution of liability in the event of accidents. Traditional definitions of driver accountability are challenged by the complex combination of ethics, law, and technology as the "driver" is now often an advanced algorithm.

This paradigm change forces us to reconsider our legal systems and address the complexities of identifying liability when software makes split-second decisions - which could mean the difference between life and death. Because of the deep connection between human error and AI decision-making, accidents involving AVs present particular challenges to the legal and insurance industries.

An Uber self-driving vehicle fatally struck a pedestrian in 2018. The safety driver was considered liable as she was distracted by watching a video on her phone instead of monitoring the vehicle's operation. This instance highlights the challenges associated with AI responsibility, especially in semi-autonomous vehicles that rely on human supervision. It additionally highlights the necessity of clear standards and instructions for safety operators to ensure that they remain engaged and prepared to step in, even in the era of autonomous technology.

Just a year later, in a 2019 fatal crash involving a self-driving Tesla car, a court judge discovered strong evidence that Tesla knew about the limitations of the system. Following this finding, a lawsuit was approved against Tesla, claiming intentional misconduct and ignorance in the driver's death. This story underscores how crucial it is that manufacturers advertise autonomous systems responsibly and openly disclose their limitations to maintain public safety and create trust in this rapidly developing technology.

These cases show how human and artificial intelligence liability may co-exist in AV incidents. These kinds of instances highlight the need for expert research in incidents involving AI. It needs an extensive understanding of the technology as well as a revised legal framework to determine liability when both AI algorithms and human judgment are involved.

For detailed inquiries or to discuss a specific case involving Artificial Intelligence, reach out to our team at or call us at 1-888-674-3508.


  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • State v. Rafael(a) Vasquez - CR2020-001853-001
  • Banner vs Tesla Inc. - 50-2019-CA-009962 (AB)



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