"Sally's calm and professional demeanor gave me peace of mind when I was so frantic after a major accident." - Tammy T.

More than 8 million self-driving cars will be on United States roadways by 2025. Currently, there are already more than 1,400 types of driverless cars in testing or in production, and California is a major hub of innovation for new driverless car technology.

This means the future of driverless cars is here. And as a result, accidents with self-driving cars are already on the rise. You’ve probably seen some of the most famous cases in the news, like the fatal San Jose Uber accident or the Tesla Model X crash in Mountain View.


And as we get closer to fully autonomous cars, standard motor vehicles are becoming more and more equipped with advanced car safety systems. While these features are meant to improve safety and assist drivers, many consumers aren’t even aware of how they work or worse, assume they can let their guards down and allow themselves to be distracted.

So, what if you were in a driverless vehicle accident? What would you do next? Who’s at fault? How can you hold the right person responsible when a person may not have been even driving the car?

We’d like to clear up the answers to your questions about autonomous vehicle accidents. At Sally Morin law firm, we stay at the forefront of technology to help our San Francisco-area clients remain safe, healthy, and financially stable after severe injuries in car crashes.


Why Do Self-Driving Car Accidents Happen?

So far, the self-driving vehicles on our roads aren’t fully driverless but do allow a human driver to switch over to autopilot mode. As the car travels down the road handling most of the driving details, the person still supervises the process.

Or at least, they’re supposed to. Human drivers are obligated to stay alert and watch the behavior of their self-driving cars, but many fail to do these driving tasks and cause distracted driving accidents.

In fact, some people don’t even understand exactly how their own cars work on autopilot. Most of these cars are considered partially autonomous, not fully autonomous, even if their owners don’t realize it. As Robert L. Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), explains, “If you own a car with partial automation, you do not own a self-driving car. Don’t pretend that you do.”

Sumwalt and the NTSB have conducted several driverless car studies that have added to the agency’s data about self-driving car accidents. Causes of these accidents include:

  • Self-driving car system limitations and failures
  • Missing or damaged highway dividers, barriers, and traffic safety features
  • Driver distraction from cell phones, including videos and games
  • Driver complacency and inattentiveness
  • Driver over-reliance on autopilot capabilities
  • Drivers’ failures to place their hands on the wheel as recommended by the manufacturer

While some crashes involve product liability cases due to technological glitches and road hazards, human error is a primary contributor to many severe traffic accidents. This means at a crucial moment when a self-driving car needs a person’s help, the person might be too distracted to notice.

Who’s At Fault for a Self-Driving Car Accident?

After a crash, you’ll want to know who can be held liable for your damages, including your injuries, vehicle repairs, lost wages, medical bills and more. So let’s look at who is responsible for driverless car accidents in California.

Operating a self-driving car doesn’t release a car’s driver from responsibility in a crash. They are still expected to be in control of their vehicle under California’s rules of the road. As an injured victim, you can pursue a personal injury case against the driver of a self-driving car by establishing that they were negligent.

The two most common negligence claims in assigning self-driving car liability are

  • Ordinary negligence: The plaintiff alleges that a reasonable person would have acted differently in the same situation.
  • Negligence per se: The plaintiff alleges that the conduct was inherently negligent and there is no need to prove that a reasonable person would have acted differently.

You may also be able to pursue a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer for design flaws or system malfunctions that contributed to your self-driving vehicle accident. In addition, it’s possible that a government entity could be held responsible for a missing safety barrier or another type of road safety failure that added to the severity of your crash.

What are the Self-Driving Car Laws?

Like all states, California is scrambling to ensure its laws regarding self-driving cars will keep people safe. Self-driving cars are legal in California and are allowed on the road, but drivers may not operate them in a way that is illegal.

You must remain alert and in control of the vehicle, avoiding distracted driving and refraining from the use of electronic devices to write, send, view or read any communications that take your attention off the road. Drivers should supervise the behavior of the self-driving vehicle and take over during an emergency.

Don’t drink and drive an autonomous car. It is still considered drunk driving to operate a self-driving car when you are over the legal limit of intoxication.

If you are injured in an accident with a self-driving car, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in San Francisco. People with these cars can be held liable for negligence.

Which Companies are Using Driverless Cars?

After a driverless car accident, you can sue the companies that develop, manufacture, and use these vehicles. Here’s a list of major companies that are involved with self-driving vehicles:

  • Waymo, a subsidiary of Google, is one of the earliest and largest innovators in driverless car technology. It top’s California’s list safety disengagements, where a human driver had to step in to prevent an emergency.
  • Apple famously tested a fleet of driverless vehicles, including a model of Lexus in California, but the company has had its share of bad publicity about crashes and malfunctions.
  • Nvidia claims to offer the first commercially-available high-level totally automated vehicle.
  • Baidu cars drove 1 million miles in China by 2019 and the company is expanding in the rideshare market.
  • Intel/Mobileye developed a camera-only driverless car that uses no radar or other beams to monitor the area around the vehicle.
  • Continental is a German company creating self-driving cars to synchronize with robotic delivery dogs.
  • Uber has spent more than $1 billion on driverless car technology, particularly on self-driving delivery trucks and passenger Volvos.
  • Toyota has an agreement with Uber to deploy a fleet of autonomous vehicles.
  • Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk says all new Teslas now have full self-driving hardware, although Tesla has been at the center of several autonomous car safety controversies.
  • Volvo has partnered with Uber and also has its own driverless technology division.
  • Mercedes-Benz is working on driverless options for passenger cars, plus driverless robot taxis and a self-driving valet system.
  • BMW has formed several different partnerships for driverless cars and already integrates some driverless technology into many of its models.
  • Audi and Huawei are working together to develop a brand of premium luxury autonomous vehicles.
  • General Motors debuted a driverless car without a steering wheel that may or may not be approved for general road use.
  • Ford says it has invested $4 billion in autonomous vehicles and will offer them by 2021.
  • Stagecoach produces a driverless bus in the U.K. which could have trial runs in the U.S. soon.

What are the Dangers of Self-Driving Cars to Pedestrians and Cyclists?

Pedestrians and bicyclists are constantly at risk on California roads. Pedestrian deaths are up by 35% in our state since 2008. Drivers often don’t notice these small-size road users or don’t care about them.

So are self-driving cars safer than human drivers? So far, the answer seems to be NO.

Driverless cars still make mistakes and still rely on human beings to stay alert. When the driver is distracted, they can’t always avert disaster – as we saw in the fatal San Jose Uber accident, where a pedestrian was killed.

As a cyclist or pedestrian, you are at risk of a driverless car:

  • Backing over you
  • Accelerating suddenly toward you
  • Not seeing you while merging or changing lanes
  • Colliding with you at an intersection
  • Failing to stop for you at a crosswalk
  • Killing you before the human driver even realizes what happened

What are the Dangers to Other Motorists From Driverless Cars Around Them?

Driverless cars pose dangers to other motorists around them because they don’t always operate in a safe and predictable way.

As a regular motorist on the road, you may face risks like:

  • Driverless car equipment design flaws and technology malfunctions
  • Driverless cars’ inability to understand human behavior
  • Road debris, which can cause driverless cars to behave erratically
  • The false sense of security driverless car owners sometimes feel
  • Lack of owners’ understanding that there is no truly autonomous car – at least, not yet.

Self-driving car crash deaths are on the rise as these vehicles become more common on our roads. Unfortunately, any motorist is at risk of injury and death, not just the self-driving car owners themselves.

What are the Dangers to Passengers in Driverless Cars?

Passengers in driverless cars are powerless to stop accidents. They rely on the vehicle, its technology, its safety features, and its human supervisor to handle any emergency that comes up.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) predicts that passenger dangers will only rise in the coming years. According to the NHTSA, we are currently in a “partially-automated safety feature” phase that will come to an end around 2025, when fully automated vehicles become commonplace on our roads.

In the future, all public transportation could be handled by driverless vehicles. Uber and Lyft passengers might be driven around by 100% non-human drivers. Our society may even face philosophical and legal debates over questions like, “Should we ban human-driven cars?” and “Should a driverless car kill its own driver to save a pedestrian?”

What About Self-Driving Features on Mainstream Vehicles?

Some mainstream vehicles come equipped with limited self-driving features like the Autopilot driver-assist system  with adaptive cruise on certain vehicles, automatic braking, and self-parking cars, which can potentially make parallel parking on a busy street a much easier task.

When accidents occur with these kinds of vehicles, it opens up all kinds of questions. Who is truly at fault? What if you assume your vehicle’s automatic braking system will work, but it doesn’t?

There are examples of cars with automatic braking systems stopping for no reason– which comes with its own dangers. Some of these incidents have also caused their own accidents and injuries. Even self-driving features on mainstream vehicles can lead to collisions, which puts both drivers in these vehicles and others at risk.

Who Pays if I am Injured by a Driverless Car?

In today’s world, a driverless car is covered by its human driver’s car insurance. If you are injured, you can sue the car’s owner and make an insurance claim against them.

Of course, every situation is unique and sometimes there are unpredictable factors at play. Perhaps there were multiple cars involved in the crash. Maybe you’re dealing with a driverless car equipment malfunction.

You’ll need a qualified forward-thinking San Francisco personal injury attorney to review the facts of your case and advise you on how to move forward. Make sure you work with someone who thoroughly understands accidents with self-driving cars.

Why do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney for a Self-Driving Car Accident?

Some people think that hiring an attorney for a driverless car accident is too costly and isn’t worth their time. Other people assume an attorney will just blow things out of proportion.

Not true! You have a right to sue for your injuries and other damages after a car accident in California. We’re here to protect your rights and give you a voice in the legal system, especially in the evolving realm of driverless car law.

Having an Attorney Will Get You More!

The Insurance Research Council found that:

Accident victims with a lawyer receive an average of 3.5 times more than those who are unrepresented.

Your San Francisco Self-Driving Car Attorney Can Help You...

    • Investigate what happened
    • Interview people and gather evidence
    • Get your medical bills paid
    • Demand compensation for the cost of car repairs or replacement
    • Seek reimbursement for lost wages
    • Ease your pain and suffering
    • Hold the right person responsible for your situation
    • Negotiate out of court for a settlement
    • Go to court, if necessary
    • Reduce your stress after the trauma of an accident

If you've been in a serious driverless or autonomous car accident and have suffered:

Broken bones





Then speaking with a San Francisco driverless car accident lawyer at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers - or completing our FREE online case evaluation - is the first step on the road to recovery.

After a Driverless Car Accident, Remember: The Insurance Adjuster is NOT on Your Side!

In the days after a self-driving car accident, the insurance adjusters will start contacting you. They’ll ask for information and documentation about your accident and may begin pressuring you to take a quick offer from them.

Don’t be fooled. A fast lowball offer is a bad deal. Your medical bills will continue to pile up, even as you miss days of work and face a long recovery period from your accident. Don’t agree to anything until you talk to a San Francisco car accident attorney who has expertise with driverless car accidents.

An insurance adjuster is never on your side because their number one priority is saving the insurance carrier money. Their own paycheck is based on their success in discounting your claim!

An insurance adjuster might downplay your accident or imply that the whole thing was your own fault. They might suggest that their proposal is fair to you, even when it isn’t. No matter how nice they are, and no matter how hard they work to earn your trust, an insurance adjuster isn’t your friend.

Your San Francisco car accident attorney, on the other hand, works for you and is definitely on your side. They are dedicated to following the law and protecting your best interests. Unlike an insurance adjuster who tries to get you to settle for less, your attorney is focused on getting you more money, more resources to repair your car, and more compensation that helps you move forward successfully from your accident.

Let's Get the Settlement You Deserve!

Why risk sabotaging your SF car accident claim by trying to handle it alone?
Get your no cost, risk-free case evaluation. And get peace of mind.

If at any time within the first 30 days of signing with Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers you are not 100% satisfied with the quality and care of service you receive from our attorneys, we will cancel your contract at no cost so that you can seek different representation. No questions asked.

You Need a San Francisco Driverless Car Accident Lawyer on Your Team ASAP

If you negotiate directly with the other driver’s insurance company to avoid paying an attorney’s fees, get ready to get lowballed! They’ll see you don’t have a lawyer and try to push you around.

The insurance company might offer to pay for your past medical bills, but what about your future bills? Your lost job earnings? Your pain and suffering? Each of these elements is guaranteed to you by California law. Don’t let any of them be glossed over and undervalued simply because you don’t have a lawyer to help protect your rights.

Self-driving car accidents are a new and evolving part of the law. You need a lawyer with a long track record of success with San Francisco car accidents who can increase your settlement by far more than their legal fees. We’ll help you put money in your pocket with a lot less stress.

Jenny Y.

San Francisco Accident Client

"I can say I was worry free through the whole time. :) I would definitely recommend Sally Morin to anyone who need it."

Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers – Not Your Typical San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer

We’re not like other car accident attorneys in San Francisco. You won’t see us advertising on the sides of MUNI buses, freeway billboards or local TV and radio. Our reputation, effectiveness and 5-start customer service has San Francisco car accident victims contacting us daily. We are fortunate enough to be able to be really selective with who we choose to represent! We carefully hand-select each of our clients. That way, we can form the super solid attorney-client relationships.


San Francisco Client

You cannot have a finer personal injury attorney helping you than Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. Unquestionably the best!"

Check out Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers' San Francisco Client Reviews and Testimonials

The San Francisco autonomous car accident legal team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers gives unparalleled customer-service. You can see in our reviews all the reasons...

Why Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers has over 150 5-star ratings from California traffic accident clients:

  • We only do serious traffic accidents. We limit our practice strictly to major injuries resulting from car, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian accidents. This allows the team to focus on developments in a single area of law and develop an unmatched level of expertise.
  • We don’t take every case. We don’t accept “nuisance claims” from potential clients who are motivated purely by financial gain or revenge. Our clients are people whose lives have been significantly disrupted by their injuries.
  • We are the perfect lawyers for people who don’t want one. Our clients tend to be people who didn’t want a lawyer or at least never thought they would need to hire one. But, the severity of their accident gave them no choice. We won’t litigate unnecessarily or drag you to a trial you never wanted. We aren’t doing this for our own egos, we are doing this for you! If you’re going to be stuck with a personal injury lawyer, it may as well be us.
  • We are attentive and responsive. You are not just a case number at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. With our “quality over quantity” approach to cases, you and your case will get the full attention it deserves. We WILL return your calls and emails and keep you updated on the status of your case.
  • We collaborate with you when big decisions need to be made. It’s your case. We will check with you on important decisions like settlement offers, filing a lawsuit or going to trial.
  • We increase your “net settlement” value. Not only will we work to get you the highest settlement possible, but we will also negotiate with your healthcare providers to reduce their charges, so you end up with more of your settlement money.

If the idea of working with a customer-centric San Francisco driverless car accident lawyer who gets quick and solid results for their clients appeals to you, your next step is to get a FREE case evaluation from our San Francisco car accident team.

Not Sure W​​​​hat To Do Next?

Complete Guide on what to do after an accident in San Francisco

Some of what you will get in this guide:

  1. What you can do immediately after an accident
  2. How to get the help you need to recover after an accident
  3. Helpful resources and contacts in San Francisco that you can reach out to
  4. Understand your personal injury case and how you should handle it
Wilson S.

"Sally Morin is a great attorney I had worked with. She is very responsible, experienced and worked very hard to get the maximum benefit possible for the victim of vehicle accident."

We Get Results in Car Accident Settlements

Here's an example of a $250,000 San Francisco car accident settlement the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers secured for one of our wonderful clients. Check out more car accident settlement results like these, too! We’re not like other car accident attorneys in San Francisco. You won’t see us advertising on the sides of MUNI buses, on freeway billboards, or on local TV and radio stations. Our reputation, effectiveness, and 5-star customer service has San Francisco car accident victims contacting us daily. We are fortunate enough to be selective in who we choose to represent and we carefully handpick every client.

After your accident with a driverless car, contact us to start the road to recovery and secure compensation for your damages.

Are We Right For Your Driverless Car Accident Case?

It’s important to find the right fit between an attorney and client. Still not sure about hiring a San Francisco car accident lawyer? Find out more here about whether Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers is the right firm to handle your case. We also invite you to take a look at our long list of happy reviews and testimonials from other people like you, right here in San Francisco. You can also learn more about how the accident claims process works if you choose Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers.

Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers'
California Personal Injury Blog

Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers is an all female team of customer-focused, five-star California personal injury attorneys who exclusively handle traffic accident settlement negotiation. They have California offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Oakland.

Review of Sally Morin law by Jenny Y.

Jenny Y.

San Francisco Accident Client

"I can say I was worry free through the whole time. :) I would definitely recommend Sally Morin to anyone who need it."

Review of Sally Morin Law by LEAKE L.


San Francisco Client

You cannot have a finer personal injury attorney helping you than Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. Unquestionably the best!"

Review of Sally Morin Law by Wilson S.

Wilson S.

"Sally Morin is a great attorney I had worked with. She is very responsible, experienced and worked very hard to get the maximum benefit possible for the victim of vehicle accident."

Are You Ready to Start the Road to Recovery?