Cruise, LLC is one of the four main companies that are authorized by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to maintain and offer ridesharing services via autonomous vehicles in the state. While this is indeed an exciting prospect, the technology behind autonomous vehicles, coupled with existing infrastructure issues can sometimes lead to accidents. Worse, if you decide to take one of these rides via a driverless car or other vehicle, you may find yourself seriously injured.
At Rideshare Law Office, we understand how difficult any car accident is, especially those involving a rideshare service. Our team of experienced California autonomous vehicle accident lawyers can help you navigate the claims process and get the legal support you need for any injuries or damages you’ve suffered. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Cruise Autonomous Vehicles in California
With its status as a leader in technology, favorable weather, and progressive regulatory environment, California has long been a hotspot for the development of autonomous vehicles. Cruise, which is a subsidiary of General Motors (GM), is one of the companies that has made significant strides in recent years developing their fleet of autonomous vehicles. In fact, Cruise was given clearance by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to offer ridesharing services in California 24 hours a day, seven days a week in August of 2023.
However, a slew of accidents–including one that involved a fire truck–led to GM cutting its available fleet of autonomous vehicles in California by 50%.
Despite this setback, Cruise remains a strong player in the realm of autonomous vehicles in California. That said, there is still the issue of accidents that the company–and others–will have to deal with.
What Are the Potential Causes of Autonomous Car Accidents in California?
As one of the most prominent companies offering autonomous vehicle rides in California, Cruise obviously places safety as its paramount concern regarding its fleet of vehicles. However, even with these precautions, there remains a possibility that the technology may not consistently perform as intended, particularly in the many bustling urban areas of California. Here are some of the more prevalent factors that can contribute to accidents involving these vehicles:
- Functional limitations – Autonomous cars rely on a suite of sensors such as cameras, LiDAR, and radar to perceive their surroundings. Adverse weather conditions, such as rain and fog, which are not uncommon in California, can impair the functionality of these sensors, potentially leading to accidents.
- Calibration of the sensors – If the sensors are not properly calibrated on Cruise’s vehicles, they may misinterpret data, resulting in accidents.
- Issues with the software – Cruise’s autonomous vehicles are driven by complex algorithms. Like any software, these algorithms can encounter glitches or errors that cause unexpected behavior and accidents.
- Human behavior – Other road users may not always adhere to traffic rules, which can be perplexing for autonomous vehicles and may lead to accidents.
- Poor or changing road conditions – Construction zones or poorly marked roads can create uncertainty for autonomous vehicles, causing accidents due to the vehicle’s inability to make informed decisions.
- Human interaction – Autonomous cars must navigate alongside human drivers, and misinterpretations or miscommunications between the two can result in accidents.
- Errors in navigation – Incorrect maps or outdated mapping data can cause autonomous vehicles to make incorrect decisions, potentially leading to accidents.
- Mechanical problems – Just like traditional vehicles, autonomous cars can experience mechanical failures in components like brakes or the engine, which can lead to accidents.
As you can see, not only do autonomous vehicles have to account for technological limitations, but they also have to potentially deal with the same underlying causes and factors that any other car has to deal with in California. With this added element, accidents are not uncommon. And like any other vehicle accident, you can expect to also have to deal with injuries.
Common Injuries in California Autonomous Vehicle Accidents
While an autonomous vehicle differs substantially from other cars in terms of its technological capabilities, structurally they are extremely similar to regular cars. What this means, at least in terms of a potential accident, is that the same factors that contribute to potential injuries and damage to your car are present even with an autonomous vehicle. While every accident is unique, some of the more common injuries that come from autonomous vehicle accidents include:
- Whiplash – Whiplash is one of the most common injuries in any car accident, including those involving autonomous vehicles. It occurs when the head is suddenly jerked backward and then forward, causing neck strain and soft tissue damage.
- Contusions and bruises – Impact with seat belts, airbags, or other vehicle components can lead to contusions and bruises on various parts of the body, such as the chest, abdomen, and limbs.
- Fractures and broken bones – The force of any collision can result in fractures and broken bones, with virtually the entire body being affected.
- Head injuries – Even with airbag deployment, occupants may sustain head injuries upon impact. These can range from minor concussions to more severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), depending on the nature and force of the accident.
- Cuts and lacerations – Broken glass, loose objects, or sharp debris in the vehicle can cause cuts and lacerations. Occupants may also be injured by deploying airbags or other safety mechanisms.
- Back and spine injuries – The sudden jolt of a collision can result in back injuries, including herniated discs or spinal cord injuries. Severe spinal cord injuries can lead to paralysis or long-term disability.
- Internal injuries – Blunt force trauma from a collision can cause internal injuries, such as organ damage or internal bleeding. These injuries may not always be immediately apparent and can be life-threatening if not promptly treated.
- Burns – If a collision leads to a vehicle fire or electrical malfunction, occupants may suffer burns. Burns can range from first-degree (superficial) to third-degree (full-thickness) burns.
- Psychological trauma – In addition to physical injuries, occupants may experience emotional and psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety disorders, as a result of the accident.
Obviously, the severity of your injuries can vary based on the particular circumstances of your accident. However, the main question you probably have is who is legally responsible–especially if the accident involved a driverless Cruise vehicle.
Cruise’s Liability in a California Autonomous Vehicle Accident
When you’re involved in a car accident involving a Cruise autonomous vehicle, it can be stressful because you’re likely facing injuries and other damages. Under normal circumstances, figuring out who is liable for these injuries hinges on negligence–and that usually falls on another driver that caused the accident. However, this isn’t always available in a Cruise autonomous vehicle accident.
Luckily, Cruise can still be held responsible for your injuries because as a company, they are ultimately responsible for keeping you and others safe–even if there’s no driver in their autonomous vehicle.
Additionally, liability for a Cruise autonomous vehicle accident in California can be placed on one or more of the following entities:
- Autonomous vehicle operator – If a human operator is in the Cruise vehicle and fails to properly maintain or operate the vehicle, they can be held accountable.
- Cruise – If the accident occurs due to a flaw in the car’s design or manufacturing, Cruise may be deemed responsible.
- Other drivers – If another driver or actions by a third party are responsible for causing the accident, they may be held liable.
- Government entities – In cases where the accident arises from poor road conditions or inadequate signage, the local or state government could potentially bear responsibility.
While it’s not always easy to figure out just who is liable for a Cruise autonomous vehicle accident, our team of experienced lawyers can help you figure out all the available avenues to recover damages in an injury claim.
Damages Available in a California Cruise Accident
Not only is the mechanism for determining liability in an accident involving a Cruise autonomous vehicle, but so too is the potential damages that are available in an injury claim. You can do this by either:
- Filing an insurance claim against Cruise
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit
No matter which route you choose, you can potentially get financial benefits and support for:
- Medical bills and other expenses
- Any lost wages or lost income
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship or enjoyment of life
- In the event the accident was fatal, wrongful death expenses
Just like any car accident in California, the amount you get depends on how badly you were hurt. Since Cruise autonomous vehicle accidents are unique, it’s smart to work with our experienced and knowledgeable accident lawyers. We can help you navigate the legal system and talk to the insurance companies on your behalf.
Contact Rideshare Law Office Today
There’s no denying that potentially using a Cruise autonomous vehicle offers a lot of convenience. However, there’s also the potential for accidents and injuries, which brings their own issues. At Rideshare Law Office, our experienced autonomous vehicle accident lawyers can help you through this process and make sure you get what you need to make a recovery. Contact us today for a free consultation.