California requires companies, such as Waymo LLC, that test self-driving vehicles, to carry at least $5 million in liability insurance on their vehicles.
An estimated 3.5 million autonomous vehicles will be traversing US roads and highways by 2025, according to the Insurance Information Institute. By 2030, that number could reach 4.5 million. These vehicles rely on software, algorithms, sensors and hardware to operate steering wheels, adjust gears, stop and change lanes.
Using this combination of technologies, self-driving automobiles detect approaching or nearby vehicles, people and other objects. This movement within the automotive industry aims to dramatically reduce the impact of human judgment (and error) on road safety. The vast majority of automobile accidents involve human error, up to nearly 98% according to one report. These errors involve not watching properly, speeding, changing lanes unsafely, not reducing speed, and disobeying stop signs, yield signs, and stop lights. You may find impaired driving or distractions from cell phones, radios, eating, drinking, smoking, or noisy passengers.
Waymo LLC, a subsidiary of Google, operates a growing fleet of self-driving taxis and commercial trucks. Currently, taxi services operate in San Francisco and Phoenix, and soon Waymo LLC may offer its services to passengers in Los Angeles. Through Waymo Via, the company operates commercial 18-wheelers for those with expedition needs.
Those who drive or encounter driverless vehicles are not exempt from the risk of automobile accidents. As of March 2022, 176 reported crashes in California involved Waymo LLC vehicles. If you are injured as a passenger in a self-driving vehicle or as a pedestrian or motorist who collides with a Waymo taxi, a number of parties could potentially be held liable for your damages.
Product Liability Claims Against Waymo LLC
California law imposes strict liability on the manufacturer of a defective product that causes injury. This means that you do not need to prove that Waymo LLC acted negligently when putting the vehicle into service. Instead, you can have a California product liability claim if you establish a defect in the design of the product, a defect in the way it was made, or a failure to properly notify the buyer or the user of the product.
With respect to Waymo LLC and other autonomous vehicles, defects in design or workmanship may arise due to:
* Wrong software code or algorithms
* Faulty Lidar (light detection and ranging) systems designed to determine the range or distance of objects
* Errors in GPS data entry or failure to update GPS data that the vehicle relies on to recognize intersections, streets, roads and other locations
* Insecure or flimsy brackets to mount Lidar hardware to vehicle
*Incorrect placement of sensors that create blind spots
* Inability to make turns
* Sudden stops in traffic can cause rear-end collisions
*Defective brakes or accelerator
* Faulty turn signals or brake lights
A personal injury attorney can explore claims based on Waymo LLC’s failure to warn you about certain aspects of the vehicle. Autonomous vehicle manufacturers must notify users when the vehicle must operate in manual mode. That is, Waymo LLC could be held liable if it doesn’t tell you when the self-driving features might not work and when you should take control of the steering wheel, brakes and throttle. .
Responsibility of Waymo LLC to persons at the head of Waymo Via Semi-Truck
Waymo LLC’s fleet of utility vehicles has a human operator, known as the “Autonomous Specialist”. Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not specifically require a human to drive a self-driving car. However, to the extent that Waymo has a person on board, if you are injured by a Waymo tractor-trailer in Los Angeles or elsewhere, you may consider liability that Waymo LLC failed to follow FMCSA rules for :
*Physical requirements to drive commercial vehicles
*Limitation of hours in the utility vehicle for a period of time
* Drug and alcohol screening
Truck accident cases, including those involving Waymo Via, also increase the potential for recovery against the carrier under vicarious liability. In California, this theory holds trucking companies and other employers liable for the negligence of their employees. As applicable to Waymo, LLC, vicarious liability may arise from the negligent acts of the specialist, such as failing to watch and being unaware of vehicle warnings to gain control. The Waymo LLC self-employed specialist may have been using a cell phone for personal purposes, reading or sleeping.
Negligent hire and retainer theories allow you to sue Waymo LLC for placing incompetent or unqualified self-employed specialists in tractor-trailers. You can demonstrate such incompetence by the specialist’s lack of experience in self-driving truck operations or technology, a history of convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol, or lack of a driver’s license. Truck accident and personal injury attorneys also consider whether the specialist has received proper training or supervision from the company with self-driving semi-trailers.
Other drivers to blame
If you are an injured passenger in a Waymo vehicle, your recourse may lie with the drivers of the other vehicles. Those who drive traditional vehicles act negligently by:
* Failing to properly watch other vehicles or pedestrians
* Do not reduce speed to avoid collisions
* Dangerous lane changes
* Running a stop sign or a red light
* Driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances
* Driving while viewing and sending social media content and texts on smartphones
Continuation of damage
California requires operators and owners of passenger vehicles to carry liability insurance of at least $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident. If your injuries from a negligent driver of such a vehicle exceed the minimums or if the wrongdoer does not have insurance, you can resort to your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance. .
California requires companies, such as Waymo LLC, that test self-driving vehicles, to carry at least $5 million in liability insurance on their vehicles. If you are injured by the negligence of a Waymo employee testing or supervising the Waymo vehicle, you may have much more insurance available to compensate you for the injuries.