The Law defines a person who drives a motor vehicle on a road as a "driver". The owner of the car or a person who rents the car for a long period of time is defined as an “operator”.
As per Article 85 of the Law, the operator and the driver are jointly and severally liable for any accident that occurs during the operation of motor vehicles. The liability regulated in this article is a strict liability that does not attribute fault.
Accordingly, in the absence of any relevant precedents in this respect and given the fact that there is no specific regulation for autonomous vehicles in Turkey (in line with the currently applicable legislation), both the driver and the operator would be held jointly and severally liable for damages caused by a car in automated driving mode.
The scope of this Law does not cover the manufacturer. Therefore, the liability of the manufacturer can only be assessed under the general liability regime of Turkish law. The liability of the producer companies is assessed within the scope of the Turkish Code of Obligations and the Consumer Protection Law.
If the manufacturing company sells the vehicle to a consumer that has a defect the consumer discovered as a result of an accident, the company as the seller is liable for the damages caused by the accident. If damage was caused by a defect in the vehicle, the manufacturing company may also be held liable under the Consumer Protection Law. According to this law, the consumer can request a free repair of the vehicle or demand a replacement of the vehicle.
Also, criminal liability in case of accidents caused by AVs is not specifically regulated in Turkish law so far. Under Turkish criminal law, criminal liability of legal persons is not possible, only the liability of natural persons is accepted by Turkish criminal law. Therefore, manufacturers as legal persons are not criminally liable in case of accidents. However, the programmers of the AVs, drivers and users of the vehicles may possibly be held criminally liable if they negligently or intentionally commit criminal offences (taksirli suç ve kasti suç). The levels of the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) would also possibly be decisive in defining liability. For AVs at SAE levels 3-5, the instability of manufacturers and programmers will be assessed. However, with AVs at SAE levels 1-3, the possibility of driver liability will increase.