Expectations around the safety of cars with automated driving systems (ADS) -- commonly known as self-driving vehicles -- have been high. However, media coverage of crashes where the ADS failed to prevent tragedy understandably have some people hesitant to be in one of these cars.

The recent case of an automated Uber car that struck and killed a pedestrian is the latest such incident. Uber reportedly reached a legal settlement with the victim's family. However, one of the concerns that some people have (both those considering buying one and those who would be on the road with them) is who can be held liable for a crash involving a self-driving vehicle -- the person behind the wheel, the manufacturer or both.

About Half of Drivers Surveyed Still Unsure About Automated Vehicles

Market research giant J.D. Power recently surveyed over 1,500 drivers on their opinions and concerns regarding self-driving vehicles. Just over half said they would pursue product liability litigation if they were involved in a crash with a completely automated car with no manual controls. However, many said they were "unsure" about filing a product liability suit if a less-automated car was involved.

Regarding consumers' views on the safety of these vehicles, a J.D. Power executive said, "Consumers express an expectation that collisions would not occur with automated vehicles and are holding ADS to a higher safety standard than traditional vehicles." Almost half said that they "definitely" or "probably" would ride in one of these cars. However, 46 percent said that they either definitely or probably would not ride in one.

Questions Regarding Liability Still Unanswered

Just what type of legal action victims of a crash involving a car with ADS can take and against whom is still not clear. Federal regulators will need to provide clarification on this before cars with ADS become a common sight on our roads.

Both the person behind the wheel and those in other cars as well as pedestrians may be able to sue the manufacturers. However, if the person behind the wheel could have done something to prevent the crash, he or she may be the one with partial or complete liability. Likely, it will depend on what type of system the car had and the circumstances of the crash. Car accident attorneys can help victims determine what individuals and/or companies they can hold liable in order to get the compensation they need and deserve for injuries and other damages.