Automated Vehicles and Manufacturer Responsibility for Accidents: A New Legal Regime for a New Era

51 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2018

See all articles by Kenneth S. Abraham

Kenneth S. Abraham

University of Virginia School of Law

Robert L. Rabin

Stanford Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 9, 2018

Abstract

The United States is on the verge of a new era in transportation, requiring a new legal regime. Over the coming decades, there will be a revolution in driving, as manually-driven cars are replaced by automated vehicles. There will then be a radically new world of auto accidents: most accidents will be caused by cars, not by drivers. Thus far, however, proposals for reform have failed to address with precision the distinctive issues that will be posed during the long transitional period in which automated vehicles share the roadway with conventional vehicles, or during the succeeding period that will be dominated by accidents between automated vehicles. A legal regime for this new era should more effectively and sensibly promote safety and provide compensation than the existing tort doctrines governing driver liability for negligence and manufacturer liability for product defects will be able to do. In a world of accidents dominated by automated vehicles, these doctrines will be anachronistic and obsolete. We present a proposal for a more effective system, adopting strict manufacturer responsibility for auto accidents. We call this system Manufacturer Enterprise Responsibility, or “MER.” In describing and developing our proposal for MER, we present the first detailed, extensively analyzed approach that would promote deterrence and compensation more effectively than continued reliance on tort in the coming world of accidents involving automated vehicles.

Suggested Citation

Abraham, Kenneth S. and Rabin, Robert L., Automated Vehicles and Manufacturer Responsibility for Accidents: A New Legal Regime for a New Era (April 9, 2018). Virginia Law Review, Vol. 105, 2019, Forthcoming, Stanford Public Law Working Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3159525 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3159525

Kenneth S. Abraham

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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Robert L. Rabin (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

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Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
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650-725-0253 (Fax)

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