Sue My Car Not Me: Products Liability and Accidents Involving Autonomous Vehicles

2013 U. Ill. J.L. Tech. & Pol'y 247

31 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2013 Last revised: 6 Oct 2015

See all articles by Jeffrey Gurney

Jeffrey Gurney

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP

Date Written: November 15, 2013

Abstract

Autonomous vehicles will revolutionize society in the near future. Computers, however, are not perfect, and accidents will occur while the vehicle is in autonomous mode. This Article answers the question of who should be liable when an accident is caused in autonomous mode. This Article addresses the liability of autonomous vehicle by examining products liability through the use of four scenarios: the Distracted Driver; the Diminished Capabilities Driver; the Disabled Driver; and the Attentive Driver.

Based on those scenarios, this Article suggests that the autonomous technology manufacturer should be liable for accidents caused in autonomous mode because the autonomous vehicle probably caused the accident. Liability should shift back to the “driver” depending on the nature of the driver and the ability of that person to prevent the accident. Thus, this Article argues that an autonomous vehicle manufacturer should be liable for accidents caused in autonomous mode for the Disabled Driver and partially for the Diminished Capabilities Driver and the Distracted Driver. This Article argues the Attentive Driver should be liable for most accidents caused in autonomous vehicle. Currently, products liability does not currently allocate the financial responsibility of an accident to the party that is responsible the accident, and this Article suggests that courts and legislatures need to address tort liability for accidents caused in autonomous mode to ensure that the responsible party bears responsibility for accidents.

Keywords: Autonomous Vehicles, Automated Cars, Robocars, Self Driving Car, Google Car, Torts, Products Liability, Accidents, Liability

Suggested Citation

Gurney, Jeffrey, Sue My Car Not Me: Products Liability and Accidents Involving Autonomous Vehicles (November 15, 2013). 2013 U. Ill. J.L. Tech. & Pol'y 247 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2352108

Jeffrey Gurney (Contact Author)

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP ( email )

Poinsett Plaza 9th Floor
104 South Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
United States

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