Self-driving cars are a relatively new kind of technology. As autonomous vehicles hit the streets throughout Las Vegas, lawmakers are struggling to keep up. The laws that govern self-driving vehicles are still growing and developing in the State of Nevada.

You might be wondering if there are laws about self-driving cars in Nevada. Here’s what you need to know about Nevada’s self-driving car laws from our expert Las Vegas car accident attorneys.

Self Driving Car Liability

Does Nevada Have Laws for Autonomous Vehicles?

Yes, Nevada has laws for autonomous vehicles. The Nevada legislature passed some laws about autonomous vehicles found in Nevada Revised Statutes 482A. In addition, the legislature also authorizes the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to make additional laws. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles publishes information about self-driving vehicle laws and what the public should know about autonomous vehicles.

What Are the Laws for Self-Driving Vehicles in Nevada?

The laws for self-driving vehicles in Nevada include:

  • Manufacturers must meet detailed requirements for vehicle testing and certification before putting vehicles on the road
  • Manufacturers must have at least a $5 million insurance policy to test a vehicle on a road in Nevada
  • The operator of a self-driving vehicle must be able to take control of the vehicle in an emergency, or the vehicle must meet qualifications to operate without a driver
  • All operators must have a special endorsement for autonomous vehicles in Nevada
  • Operators need to meet insurance minimums for at-fault accidents including personal injury and property damage

What Self-Driving Cars are Legal in Nevada?

To have a legal self-driving car in Nevada, the car manufacturer must certify that the car meets all of the legal requirements in effect in the State of Nevada. The manufacturer must submit an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Registry Application, provide proof of insurance, and pay the required fees.

The Application asks for detailed information about the owner of the self-driving vehicle. It also requires acknowledgment of potential penalties for anyone who submits a fraudulent statement. The insurance minimum for the vehicle manufacturer is $5 million.

Who Is Liable If There’s an Accident Involving a Self-Driving Vehicle?

The vehicle manufacturer may be liable for an accident involving a self-driving vehicle. If the car fails to operate in an expected manner, the manufacturer is legally responsible if an accident results.

However, if the accident occurs because of the actions of the vehicle operator, the operator may be liable. Some laws make the vehicle owner the operator of the vehicle for purposes of traffic tickets and civil liability even if the vehicle is fully autonomous.

Autonomous Vehicles and Legal Liability in Nevada

When autonomous vehicles malfunction, Nevada products liability laws apply. Companies that make, test, and sell autonomous vehicles have the legal requirement to put vehicles on the road only when they function as intended. Vehicle manufacturers may not use public roads as their testing lab for new vehicle technologies.

The laws that attach legal liability to autonomous vehicles are Nevada’s products liability laws. Products liability laws require all companies that make and sell products to ensure that their products are safe. If a vehicle has a poor design or if a vehicle fails to function as intended, the vehicle manufacturer is legally liable for the physical injuries and property damages that result. Even though autonomous vehicles are new, products liability laws are not new. The laws place a strong obligation on the vehicle manufacturer to ensure that they put only safe vehicles on the roads.

Who Is Legal Liable for an Accident if a Self-Driving Vehicle is Modified?

Legal liability for a modified, self-driving vehicle depends on the cause of the accident. If the cause of the crash is something that results from the modification of the vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer is no longer legally liable for the accident. In that case, legal liability moves to the owner, operator or person who does the modification.

If the modification isn’t a cause of the accident, the vehicle manufacturer may be liable under products liability laws. Alternatively, the operator of the vehicle may be liable for a negligent driving error. Nevada law 482A.090 shifts legal liability from the manufacturer when a third party makes vehicle modifications.

Are There Local Laws for Self-Driving Vehicles in Nevada?

Nevada law 482A.110 prevents a local government from imposing a tax, fee or other requirements for an operator of a self-driving vehicle. In other words, a local government can’t make an operator pay money to the local government or get a special license to drive a self-driving car.

However, Nevada Revised Statutes 482A.110 doesn’t explicitly prevent local governments from making laws that regulate the use of self-driving vehicles in their area. A local government may still be within their powers to create traffic laws that apply to self-driving vehicles.

Who is the Driver of a Driverless Self-Driving Vehicle?

In Nevada, the person who puts the self-driving vehicle on the road is the operator of the vehicle if there isn’t anyone behind the wheel. Nevada law 482A.020 says that the person who starts the vehicle is considered the operator if there’s no one in the vehicle. Nevada law 482A.020 means that the person who starts and engages the vehicle may still receive a ticket if the vehicle violates traffic law. For example, if the vehicle speeds, the person who started the vehicle may have to pay the traffic ticket. The ticket may even appear on their driving record.

Although the law is certain to be the subject of legal challenges, most traffic laws don’t require the offender to purposefully intend to break the law. In other words, traffic tickets are unlikely to become a thing of the past as autonomous vehicles grow in popularity. When there’s no one behind the wheel, the operator is the person who starts the vehicle and places it on the road.

Las Vegas Self-Driving Car Accident Attorneys

Have you been hurt by an autonomous vehicle? You may deserve financial compensation. Our attorneys can help. Call the car accident attorneys at Adam S. Kutner & Associates. Your call is free and confidential.