Automated Vehicle Liability and Insurance


Gordon Anderson, Legal Fellow, UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy

Gordon Anderson is a Legal Fellow at the Policy Institute and will graduate from King Hall, UC Davis School of Law in May 2019. His research for the Policy Institute focuses on civil liability law, insurance policy, and the governance of emerging technologies. In January 2019, he was the lead author on the Policy Institute’s four-part “Automated Vehicle Liability and Insurance” series. Before joining the Policy Institute, he served as an extern law clerk at the Supreme Court of the Northern Mariana Islands and earned a B.A. in American Literature and Culture from UCLA.


April 10, 2019 , 10:00am - 11:00am PST


Automated vehicles (AVs) can be a revolutionary safety technology, but they will still sometimes crash in novel or challenging circumstances. This webinar begins with a simple question: when AVs crash, who must pay for the damage they cause? The problem is that neither state nor federal law currently provides a straightforward, definitive answer to that question. Considering these vehicles are already testing on public roads, it is likely that there will be crash victims in the near future. Without legal clarification, these victims may find it needlessly difficult and time-consuming to receive compensation for their injuries.

This webinar will first explain the civil liability frameworks that could be used to evaluate AV crashes. From there, we will demonstrate the deficiencies in these theoretical frameworks that will create real-world problems for crash victims. We will use hypothetical examples to discuss a variety of AV liability policy questions, including:

  • Who is likely to be held liable when AVs crash, and under what circumstances?
  • How does a vehicle’s SAE Level of Automation affect the liability determination?
  • Will new participants in the AV ecosystem (fleet owners, transportation network companies, etc.) carry liability burdens?
  • What role will insurance play in resolving AV liability disputes?
  • What type of statutory or judicial lawmaking is needed to clarify AV liability?



  1. “Liability of State Highway Departments for Design, Construction, and Maintenance Defects” by Larry W.
  2. “Autonomous and Automated and Connected Cars-Oh My!” By Dorothy J. Glancy

Thank you for your interest in the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. Subscribe today to keep up with the latest ITS news and happenings.

Join Our Mailing List