What would happen if I had a Tesla and I had it drive through the parking lot to pick me up, but it hit someone on the way to me. Is it my fault or TESLA's fault? Explain.


3 Answers 3


One way to think about it is that the self-driving feature is just like any other feature of the car.

Suppose you set the parking brake of your car, but it still rolled down the hill and struck someone. I think it's clear that you would be liable, since it's your car and you were in control of it.

If the brakes were faulty, you might have a civil claim against the manufacturer for producing a faulty device. But that would be a separate claim

You can think of the self-driving feature the same way. Of course, this is an area of emerging law and new technology, so things could change.


Did you willfully operate the car?

If yes, you're the person liable.

Then, you might have a civil case against Tesla for selling you a product that did not meet your expectations.

If the product didn't meet even the most basic expectations of usability - e.g. if the brake pedal acted as gas instead - it can be a decisive argument in your defense. But you're still the defendant, as it was you that pressed that pedal.


Question: Did the car manufacturer promise that the car could do this without causing damage? In some official documentation, not a TV advert? Were there instructions how to make your car do such a trip without risk, and did you follow them? Was the car maintained properly, including cameras, software updates etc?

Today no car can do this. In the future the problem will likely be solved by insurance companies: They will tell you what is covered by your car insurance and charge premiums according to how much damage is caused on average.

BTW. The “explain” at the end sounds extremely rude and entitled.

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