29th May 2023
Self-driving trucks, also known as autonomous or driverless trucks, have been advancing in recent years with the development of automation and artificial intelligence technologies. While they have yet to be fully widespread, there have been significant advancements in their use and testing in various parts of the country, including North Dakota.
But as impressive as the technology powering these trucks may be, the fact is that they still weigh up to 80,000 pounds. If something goes wrong, the results could be devastating. If you’ve suffered an injury in a self-driving truck accident, the attorneys with Sand Law will be ready to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Are Self-Driving Trucks in Use in North Dakota?
Several states in the U.S. have been exploring the use of autonomous vehicles, including self-driving trucks. Mostly, companies are still in the research and testing stages.
For example, the North Dakota Department of Transportation started a pilot program in 2022 involving self-driving trucks. The purpose was to help reduce the instances of accidents in work zones.
In May 2022, the Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative began to retrofit some of its existing fleets to increase efficiency. The company began using automated trucks to haul recently-harvested sugar beets between the processing plant and other locations.
How Safe Are Self-Driving Trucks in 2023?
The safety of self-driving trucks in 2023 depends on various factors, including:
- technological advancements,
- regulatory frameworks,
- and the overall development of autonomous systems.
The industry is working toward improving safety features and reducing the risks associated with self-driving technology.
While self-driving trucks have the potential to enhance safety by eliminating human error, challenges and limitations still exist, and further refinement of the technology is necessary to ensure the highest possible safety standards.
Have Self-Driving Trucks Caused Any Accidents?
Like any emerging technology, self-driving trucks have experienced accidents during testing and development.
For example, there was one report of an accident involving an autonomous truck that occurred in July 2022 in Dallas. A truck was in autonomous mode, yet it had a human operator for safety. Another semi tried to enter the same lane, cutting off the autonomous vehicle. The human operator took control, but it was too late to keep the truck from being forced off the highway.
Thankfully, the driver didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries.
Who’s At-Fault for an Accident Caused by a Self-Driving Vehicle?
Determining liability in accidents involving self-driving trucks can be complex and may depend on several factors, including the specific circumstances of the accident, applicable laws, and regulations. Liability could potentially be attributed to various parties, such as :
- The manufacturer or developer: If the accident resulted from a defect in the self-driving technology or a failure of the autonomous system, liability may fall on the manufacturer or developer of the self-driving truck. If, for example, the truck has a poorly designed or defective camera or sensor, and the device fails and contributes to an accident, an injury victim may be able to take legal action against the manufacturer.
- The owner or operator: If a human operator controlled the self-driving truck at the time of the accident, the owner or operator of the vehicle may bear some responsibility.
- Third parties: Other third parties, such as maintenance providers or software suppliers, may be held liable if their actions or negligence contributed to the accident.
- Backup driver errors: We’re still quite far from completely self-driving trucks rolling up and down our nation’s highways. For now, they’ll continue to have human backup drivers. But if that driver is fatigued or impaired, they won’t be able to react quickly enough to suddenly changing conditions. Also, the truck may malfunction, making it impossible for the driver to take over. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, a victim may be able to sue the driver, manufacturer, or both.
Determining liability in self-driving truck accidents often requires a thorough investigation, expert analysis, and legal expertise to establish fault. The investigation must begin immediately so your attorney can gather critical evidence before it disappears.
How to File a Self-Driving Truck Accident Lawsuit
If you have been involved in an accident with a self-driving truck and believe that negligence or a defect in the autonomous system played a role, it is crucial to take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention: Prioritize your health and well-being by seeking immediate medical attention for any injuries sustained in the accident.
- Document the accident: Gather evidence related to the accident, including photographs, videos, witness statements, and any available police reports. This documentation will support your claim and establish the circumstances surrounding the accident. Your attorney can also work to obtain video from nearby surveillance cameras. The footage may have caught the accident, showing exactly how it occurred.
- Consult with an attorney: Contact a truck accident lawyer experienced in handling cases involving self-driving vehicles. They can evaluate the details of your case, assess liability, and guide you through the legal process.
Contact Sand Law to Speak with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer ASAP After Your Accident
Sand Law has a team of attorneys with extensive experience in personal injury cases, including truck accidents and many others. If you have been involved in a self-driving truck accident, contact Sand Law as soon as possible. We’ll provide you with personalized advice and guidance based on the specific details of your case. We’ll also help determine liability, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Navigating legal matters involving self-driving trucks can be complex. It involves aspects of emerging technology, product liability, and transportation regulations. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney who is up-to-date with the latest developments in this area will provide you with the most accurate and relevant information for your case.