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Will Self-Driving Cars Lead to More Lemon Law Claims in the Future?

Self-driving cars continue to grow in popularity and presence. And why shouldn’t they? They’re the stuff of the future! 

But as the number of self-driving cars on the road expands, they’re statistically likely to face manufacturing defects. This is especially true given the number of high-tech elements these cars need to function. 

Traditionally, the fault for a car accident has fallen onto the drivers of the vehicles involved. As we move toward a future in which drivers bear less responsibility for the actions of a vehicle, it raises a heavy question: Who is at fault in an accident involving a self-driving car? 

If the car itself is responsible for a collision, it’s likely that more lemon law claims will arise over self-driving cars that fail to perform adequately. In this guide, we’ll explore the relationship between the rise of self-driving cars and lemon laws designed to protect car owners in the United States.

Who’s driving this thing?

In a fully autonomous self-driving vehicle, the car is in control. A human driver can overpower the automatic functions if a situation calls for it, but it’s presumed that the car is fully equipped to sense, respond to, and avoid a situation that could result in a crash. 

If an autonomous vehicle fails to perform its job, it’s not always possible for a driver to notice the error and respond in time. 

Those who use self-driving cars often believe that they don’t need to exercise the same degree of care and vigilance as they would in a standard car. 

New vehicle tech has increase risks of failure

Self-driving cars work using a combination of radars, sensors, cameras, and software. Vehicles already have so many parts that defect claims can happen every day. Given the massive scale of vehicle production, it’s common sense to assume that defects can arise in manufacturing and workmanship. 

With self-driving cars, the addition of high-tech equipment means that there are more areas in which something can go wrong. 

Even given the relatively small percentage of self-driving cars on the road today, there have already been accidents reported — some resulting in death — due to self-driving car technology that fails to respond properly while in use. 

California Lemon Law

In the state of California, certain requirements must be met before a vehicle qualifies for replacement or reimbursement by the manufacturer. A car or truck qualifies as a Lemon if it is a new vehicle purchased or leased from a California dealer. To qualify, the authorized repair facility (dealer) cannot repair your vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts (as few as two times) under the warranty — it doesn’t have to be the same part. Finally, the defect or defects in your vehicle have substantially impaired the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. Meeting these requirements may entitle you to a buyback of your vehicle or a replacement.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

As technology and the car industry continue to develop, it will be interesting to see how the law responds to this new type of vehicle. However, those who already own self-driving cars should know how to respond to any issues or accidents that arise. Don’t ignore warning signs or delay repairs. 

With a high volume of technology comes a high level of responsibility. Vehicle manufacturers should take every precaution to ensure the safety of their customers. 

If you’re concerned about the performance of your self-driving car, have had to make repairs soon after purchase, or have been involved in an accident with a self-driving car, a consultation is a wise first step to make sure your purchase is protected. Contact us today.


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