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We Represent Victims of Accidents Caused by Autonomous Vehicles in Portland & Throughout Oregon

The idea of watching an autonomous vehicle roll by once sounded like something out of The Jetsons. While fully driverless cars are still some way off, partially autonomous vehicles are now a reality on the streets of Portland. Sadly, with driverless cars come accidents– some fatal and others causing catastrophic injuries.

Interestingly, one recent study found that self-driving cars were involved in 65 percent fewer collisions than their human-driven counterparts. Yet, other research shows that Americans are far from convinced of their safety. A reported 61 percent of people would not want their children or loved ones to travel in an autonomous vehicle.

If you have been injured by a self-driving car, or while riding in one, no amount of statistics or safety assurances is likely to make much of a difference in how you feel. You need an experienced Oregon car accident lawyer on your side with a track record of achieving outstanding results for car accident victims. Contact us right away to arrange a free confidential case evaluation with a Johnston Law Firm car accident attorney before your rights to file an injury claim expire.


Understanding Self-Driving Vehicles

Currently, there is no such thing as an entirely self-driving vehicle on US roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that drivers must be fully engaged and give the road their undivided attention at all times.

The NHTSA has six classifications for vehicle automation:

  • Level 0 – Momentary Driver Assistance: May offer warnings, but the driver is in full control
  • Level 1 – Driver Assistance: Provides some assistance with braking, steering, or acceleration, but the driver is fully in control
  • Level 2 – Additional Assistance: The vehicle effectively drives itself by braking, accelerating, and steering; simultaneously, the driver must remain fully alert and in control at all times
  • Level 3 – Conditional Automation: Drives autonomously but can prompt the driver to take over
  • Level 4 – High Automation: Can operate fully autonomously in limited service areas without driver assistance
  • Level 5 – Full Automation: Drives itself everywhere in all conditions with no human involvement

Not all these levels of automation may sound new to you. For some time now, vehicles with Level 2 capabilities currently on Portland’s roads include Tesla cars equipped with their proprietary Autopilot technology and General Motors Super Cruise systems. 

Until recently, only Levels 0,1, and 2 were legal on US roads. However, Mercedes Benz recently gained U.S. approval for its Drive Pilot system, which has Level 3 capabilities.

While technology is forging ahead, some of these systems have been beset by accidents and technical issues. There have been multiple model recalls. Meanwhile, lawsuits have been launched regarding catastrophic accidents that happened while self-driving technology was being used.

Unique Challenges in Self-Driving Car Accidents

In Portland, OR, self-driving vehicles are governed by House Bill 4063 of 2018. This bill names the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) as the lead agency making recommendations on automated vehicle policy. Therefore, it is important to work with a legal team that keeps up to date with the latest developments in terms of technology and state and federal laws.

In a regular motor vehicle accident, an insurance company or car accident lawyer will first figure out which driver was liable. However, when one of the vehicles involved was in self-driving mode at the time of the accident, proving liability can be an extra challenge.

Factors a car accident lawyer must consider include:

  • Self-driving car manufacturers: Did defects in the hardware or software of the vehicle contribute to the car accident?
  • Technology designer: Did the company behind self-driving technology take all necessary steps to ensure the vehicle was safe and able to avoid car crashes?
  • Human operator: Was the driver behind the wheel, paying full attention, and ready to take control of the vehicle at the time of the car accident?
  • Other drivers: Sometimes, the involvement of an autonomous vehicle may be purely coincidental. Another driver or road user may have been responsible for causing the vehicle accident.

Establishing liability can be complex. The reality is that several parties may be partly responsible for causing the accident.

In Oregon, modified comparative negligence laws enable you to seek damages in a personal injury case even if you were 50 percent responsible for the accident. An experienced Portland car accident lawyer is well-placed to discuss your options with you.

Don’t miss out on these common personal injury mistakes.

Get the legal counsel you need to guide you through the process of filing an injury claim.

Protect Your Rights After an Autonomous Vehicle Accident

After any car accident, there are certain steps you must take to protect your legal rights, such as:

  • Seeking medical attention: Do not delay – see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident. Getting prompt medical attention may make it easier to prove your personal injury was caused by your car accident.
  • Gathering evidence: If you feel able, take photographs of the scene. Talk to eyewitnesses and collect their personal details. If you call Johnston Law Firm, we may even be able to send an investigator to record the scene on your behalf.
  • Contacting Johnston Law Firm: It can be a mistake to talk to insurance companies first and a car accident lawyer second. Insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. Instead, get yourself legal representation from a Portland car accident attorney as soon as possible.

If You Were Driving a Self-Driving Car 

If you were behind the wheel of a self-driving car that caused an accident, insurance companies may be quick to point the finger at you for causing the accident. However, do not quickly conclude that you are automatically liable. 

An autonomous vehicle relies on a number of systems to function correctly. A Portland car accident attorney could help you get to the bottom of what caused your accident and potentially pursue the compensation you deserve.

If You Were a Pedestrian

If you were injured by a self-driving car as a pedestrian, you have the right to seek legal representation and pursue compensation. Of course, just like drivers, pedestrians must take reasonable care when using the roads. However, whether the technology, the driver, or another factor was responsible for your injuries, you have the right to seek justice.

What a Portland Car Accident Lawyer Can Do for You

Self-driving car accidents may be relatively new, but the same Oregon laws that protect you in other car accident cases can help you in this scenario as well. 

If a self-driving car accident lawyer takes on your case, he or she will:

  • Investigate the cause of the accident
  • Determine the liable parties and gather supporting evidence
  • Build a strong case for economic and non-economic losses
  • Negotiate with insurance companies to agree on an appropriate settlement
  • Represent you at trial if it is not possible to settle out of court

It is natural to have concerns about how you will pay for legal fees. At Johnston Law Firm, we provide all prospective clients with a free consultation. If we agree to take on your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay our fees if we win your case – and owe us nothing if you receive nothing.

Asked Questions

Determining liability in self-driving car accidents poses complex legal questions. While manufacturers can potentially be held liable for defects or failures in their autonomous systems, liability may also extend to other parties such as software developers, vehicle owners, or even municipalities responsible for road maintenance. Factors like design flaws, inadequate testing, or insufficient user instructions could contribute to manufacturer culpability. If you sustained an injury in a car accident caused by a self-driving vehicle in Oregon, contact Johnston Law Firm. Our attorneys a can help you determine the liability percentage in your accident, protect your rights and help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Common causes of self-driving car accidents include:

  • Sensor or camera malfunctions: Issues with the car’s sensors or cameras can lead to failure in detecting obstacles or other vehicles accurately.
  • Software glitches or bugs: Software errors or bugs may cause the self-driving system to malfunction, leading to incorrect decisions or actions.
  • Poor road conditions: Self-driving cars may struggle to navigate in adverse weather conditions or poorly maintained roads.
  • Human error: Although self-driving cars aim to reduce human error, interventions by human drivers or passengers can sometimes lead to accidents.
  • Inadequate training data: Insufficient or biased training data used to develop the self-driving algorithms may result in errors in decision-making.
  • Cybersecurity threats: Cyberattacks targeting self-driving cars can compromise their systems, leading to accidents or unauthorized control.

Insurance companies approach claims for self-driving car accidents similarly to traditional accidents but with added complexities. They assess fault by considering factors such as human involvement, system errors, and manufacturer liability. Insurers may need specialized adjusters and data analysts to investigate these cases thoroughly. Policies for self-driving cars may differ, potentially covering both the vehicle owner and the manufacturer. Determining responsibility and coverage can involve collaboration between insurers, manufacturers, and legal experts to ensure fair compensation for all parties involved. That’s why it’s of the essence to contact a legal expert if you’ve been involved in a crash with an autonomous vehicle. In Portland, Oregon, attorney Marc A. Johnston stands ready to offer you all the legal help you need.

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Why Johnston Law Firm Is the Right Choice for You

Getting into a car crash with a self-driving car can cause painful injuries and legal headaches. This is neither the time to go it alone nor allow an inexperienced firm to represent you. You need to work with a tried and tested legal team with a track record of achieving outstanding results for its car accident clients.

At Johnston Law Firm, our Oregon personal injury attorneys have been representing and winning cases for Oregonians for over 15 years. We have achieved six and seven-figure payouts for clients injured in a wide range of car accident cases. We believe serious injuries deserve serious results, and our tenacious lawyers will fight to give you the best chance of success.

Don’t delay in seeking justice. Call us 24/7 or contact us online for a free consultation.


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