On the Redesign of Accident Liability for the World of Autonomous Vehicles
Harvard Law School John M. Olin Center Discussion Paper No. 1014
33 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2019 Last revised: 5 Sep 2019
Date Written: August 19, 2019
This article proposes a scheme of liability that would desirably control accident risks in the coming world in which motor vehicles will be autonomous. In that world, travelers will not be drivers, rendering liability premised on driver fault irrelevant as a means of reducing accident dangers. Moreover, no other conventional principle of individual or of manufacturer liability would serve well to do so. Indeed, strict manufacturer liability, recommended by many commentators, would actually tend to leave accident risks unchanged from their levels in the absence of liability. However, a new form of strict liability – the hallmark of which is that damages would be paid to the state – would be superior to conventional rules of liability in alleviating accident risks and would be easy to implement.
Keywords: autonomous vehicle accidents; liability; tort law
JEL Classification: K13, K2, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation