Can Software Failure Be To Blame for a Car Accident?

Posted on behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on March 15, 2024

. Updated on March 20, 2024


Someone pointing to a touch screen inside of a modern car. Modern cars have a lot of software to help make them safer, such as frontal crash warning systems, lane assist and backup cameras. Despite these advancements, accidents still occur, and sometimes these crashes may be related to software failure.

We explore automotive software failure below, including how it happens, how victims can prove liability and what they should do after a crash.

If you were injured in a crash due to software failure, our South Bend car accident lawyers are prepared to help you seek compensation. We do not charge any upfront costs and only get paid if we win your case and you receive compensation.

Call our office to schedule a FREE case review. (844) 678-1800.

What Types of Software Does Your Vehicle Have?

Unless you are driving a particularly old car, your vehicle is likely equipped with a wide variety of software. Most newer vehicles have more than 100 electronic control units that manage a variety of features, including:

  • Engine control: This software controls the engine’s air-fuel mixture, ignition timing and other features that maximize performance and fuel efficiency.
  • Transmission control: This manages the automatic transmission, ensuring smooth gear changes and power delivery.
  • Infotainment systems: These systems provides entertainment and informational content and may also provide navigation assistance.
  • Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS): These systems include features like adaptive cruise control, lane assistance and automatic emergency braking.
  • Telematics: These devices send, receive and store information related to the vehicle. For example, some drivers install these devices to get discounts on auto insurance.

How Do Vehicle Software Failures Happen?

There are many ways software in your vehicle could fail or not work the way it was intended:

Software Integration Issues

This means the software was not properly collaborating with another part of the vehicle. For example, a backup camera needs to work with sensors to signal that you are too close to another vehicle.

Software Defects

There might be programming errors, incorrect algorithms or unforeseen interactions between software and some other part of the vehicle. Unfortunately, manufacturers sometimes ignore defects. There are other times where manufacturers can update firmware.

Environment Conditions

Extreme weather conditions can cause automotive software to malfunction. Hot weather could cause overheating while cold weather can cause components to shrink. Humidity can cause short circuiting or corrosion over time.

Inadequate Testing

If automotive software is not tested properly before being released onto the market, it may be more likely to fail. These issues may lead to a manufacturer recall.

Conflicts With Traffic Laws

Some automotive software may not comply with traffic safety laws. For instance, Tesla issued a recall because the font for the brake, park and antilock brake system on dashboard was too small. The smaller font may have made it more difficult for drivers to see the brake, parking and antilock brake system readings on the car’s dashboard.

What Can Happen After Vehicle Software Failure?

Automotive software failure can lead to serious consequences. For example, drivers could lose control of their vehicles, making a crash much more likely to occur.

Some other consequences of vehicle software failures may include:

  • Problems with braking and acceleration: Your car might accelerate without you pressing the accelerator or your brakes may not work when you press them. This can lead to dangerous collisions with other vehicles or objects.
  • Safety system failure: Software problems could trigger steering issues. There may also be problems with the airbags.
  • Fatal accidents: In some cases, software failures can lead to fatal car accidents.
  • Manufacturer recalls and legal consequences: Some software failures result in manufacturers having to recall a particular make or model of a vehicle.

How Do Victims Prove Liability?

Although automotive software failure could contribute to an accident, the driver of the car could still be held liable. The at-fault driver would need to prove the software failure made the crash unavoidable to reduce his or her percentage of fault. They would likely need to bring in an expert witness to explain how software failures contributed to the collision.

If you were injured in this type of crash, you should consider working with an attorney to help you pursue full compensation. The attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan and Stesiak know how to gather strong evidence for a car crash claim in Indiana.

What Should I Do After a Crash Due to Automotive Software Failure?

If you are involved in a crash that may involve automotive software failure, call 9-1-1 so emergency responders can tend to you and the other parties involved in the crash. This will also bring the police to the scene so they can complete a report.

If possible, document the scene while waiting for the police and other first responders to arrive. For example, take pictures of the scene and exchange information from the others involved in the crash.

Depending on your case there could be other steps that you may need to take. This is one of many reasons why you should work with an experienced lawyer who can explain what you should do to protect your claim, such as being careful on social media.

Call Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak After Your Car Crash

Trying to navigate the complex legal system on your own is challenging. Our knowledgeable attorneys are prepared to help you throughout the legal process. We have decades of getting results for our clients and are prepared to help you recover full compensation.

We do not charge any upfront costs. We only get paid if you receive compensation.

Call our office today to speak to one of our attorneys. (844) 678-1800

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases