What You Need to Know About Automotive Software Failure and Car Accidents

What You Need to Know About Automotive Software Failure and Car Accidents
What You Need to Know About Automotive Software Failure and Car Accidents

There are many risks for car accidents, and automotive software failure is one of them. Advances in built-in computer systems should provide a better driving experience, but they can also be the reason for serious accidents and injuries. This is why mechanical software should be handled properly and regularly updated. What happens when the car’s software fails and what if that leads to an accident? Who will be at fault in such cases and how the injured driver and passengers can collect their damages? The answer is complex, but in general, the automobile manufacturer can be held liable.

If you were involved in an accident caused by such a failure, a New York car accident attorney (with experience in this area) could help you with your case.

How Does Automotive Software Function?

Automobile software is quite complex and sophisticated as new models of cars arrive on the market. However, the more complex the program, the higher the chances are for failure. Many newer cars have tens of electronic control units (ECUs) connected by network communications, all necessary to run the safety functions.

These ECUs are like a black-box assembly for the vehicle. It often contains firmware, an embedded microprocessor, circuitry, memory, and network connection. Software installed in ECUs may be provided by a party in the automotive supply chain, or created and coded by the manufacturer. Assembly with ECUs requires testing the entire system to assure all parts are functioning perfectly.

In modern cars, the brakes, airbags, engine, and other important features need software to work, and most of the software is kept in the ECUs.

If an ECU has an error, it can lead to accidents and injuries.

Accidents Caused by Automotive System Errors

In case the software fails and the key vehicle systems cease to work, it can lead to a collision. If the car has a problem with the software in their automatic emergency braking systems, it will stop without warning, putting the passengers of the vehicle at risk of a rear-end crash, or T-bone accident.

Automobile manufacturers are legally responsible to guarantee that their vehicles are safe to own and drive. If the quality support for software in the vehicle, including cybersecurity, non-functional safety, and functional safety ensures that brakes and other key systems work correctly. In case the manufacturers fail in this responsibility, they may be held liable for causing the injuries.

Software Defect Occured – How Automobile Manufacturers Will Respond?

If an automotive software defect is minor, the manufacturer may respond like this:

  • They would ignore a minor defect that doesn’t act as a threat to safety or performance.
  • They could upgrade firmware when you take the vehicle for servicing (if the defect is not critical to safety).
  • They may include updated firmware in replaceable subassemblies.
  • The manufacturer may do over-the-air upgrades for compatible ECUs and models. If the manufacturers use this method, they may not be required to expose software defects or fixes to consumers or regulatory agencies.

If the software defect has serious safety implications the manufacturer may be required to issue a recall.  Although these automotive systems should improve our lives and lower the risk of accidents, there is a dangerous margin for error. When such accidents occur, victims have to pay high medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other fees related to the accident.

If you end up injured in such an accident, you may be eligible to collect a claim. This claim will cover all your lost wages, pain, and suffering, and the medical costs for your injuries.

The best way to get this compensation claim is to file an auto part product liability claim. A skilled attorney with experience in this area would help you with this. Such cases can be complex and may take a long time. Technically you can go into the process by yourself, but it’s always better to have an expert by your side.


Going against the insurance companies of the auto manufacturer can be risky. They will have the best team of attorneys to ensure that the company won’t have to pay you a high compensation claim (or not pay you at all). Having a lawyer means having support in every meaning of the word; they would collect evidence and do their best to prove your case.

If you have any dilemmas related to automotive software failure accidents, Cellino Law attorneys will gladly answer them. We’re here to review your case.


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