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Who’s Responsible for a Self-Driving Taxi Crash in Texas?

Self-driving taxis, now on the streets of Austin and Dallas, could soon be operating in Houston, San Antonio, and throughout the Lone Star State. As exciting and revolutionary as that may be, driverless taxis are not immune to traffic violations and auto accidents — and some of these futuristic vehicles have already been involved in wrecks that have hurt people.

So, who’s to blame when robotaxis crash?

The makers of these vehicles, as well as others, can be liable, depending on how the accident occurred.

What Causes Self-Driving Taxi Accidents?

Robotaxis can crash for the same reasons that driver-operated vehicles wreck. In fact, ironically, whether or not humans are behind the wheel of a vehicle, the leading cause of traffic crashes is human error. That’s because factors, like (but not limited to) the following, can be risky for both driver-operated cars and autonomous vehicles like self-driving taxis:

  • Distraction
  • Impairment
  • Reckless driving
  • Failures to comply with traffic laws

Notably, when these factors contribute to robotaxi accidents, they tend to involve the careless and dangerous actions of other motorists on the roads. Potentially compounding these issues are other accident-causing risks, like (but not limited to):

  • Software problems: As advanced as driverless technology is, it still faces problems with certain tasks, like differentiating objects from people. Beyond that, simple glitches can cause problems, as well, and the constant threat of hacking remains a perplexing issue that carmakers have yet to solve.
  • Mechanical failures: Ignition switch problems, tire blowouts, and brake failures are just some of the equipment issues that can affect driverless and driver-operated vehicles, raising the risks of wrecks.
  • Dangerous road conditions: While debris in the roads or detours could interfere with safe travels for any vehicle, robotaxis can have a much more difficult time safely navigating the streets when road markings are faded, traffic signs are missing or obscured, and the road conditions are generally subpar.
  • Bad weather: Sleet, hail, fog, and other adverse weather can interfere with the cameras and sensors on driverless vehicles. That can result in miscalculations and erroneous responses, which could result in robotaxi wrecks.

What to Do After a Driverless Taxi Accident: 10 Steps

If you’re ever involved in a robotaxi accident in Texas or elsewhere, follow these steps ASAP to safeguard your rights, protect your interests, and avoid any missteps in the process:

  1. Get out of the wrecked vehicle and get out of the path of traffic as soon as possible.
  2. Call 911 if anyone has been hurt or if debris from the crash may be blocking traffic.
  3. Get medical attention as soon as you can, even if you think you’re only mildly hurt.
  4. Take pictures and record videos of everything you can at the crash site. This includes the damaged vehicles, the debris on the ground, the victims, the location of the crash, the first responders at the scene, and more.
  5. Use your words wisely. ONLY talk about the facts, never admit any fault, and do not apologize or take a guess about any details.
  6. Report the accident to your insurance company, again only discussing the facts of the wreck.
  7. Continue seeking medical attention for any crash-related injuries, and save all medical bills and documents you receive related to this treatment.
  8. Get a copy of the police report for the accident. You can request copies of police car accident reports in Texas here.
  9. Retain everything you have related to the accident. Ideally, create backup versions of anything digital, like photos or videos, by uploading them to the cloud or emailing them to yourself.
  10. Do not assume the insurance company, the driverless car company, or anyone else is looking out for you. In all likelihood, each party involved in a driverless car accident claim will have their own interests to protect, and those likely won’t align with yours if others may be at fault and you’re trying to seek damages.

This can be just the beginning of what it takes to investigate a robotaxi accident in Texas. For help with the next steps, it’s prudent to consult an experienced auto accident lawyer.