On the Redesign of Accident Liability for the World of Autonomous Vehicles

34 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2019

See all articles by Steven Shavell

Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: September 2019

Abstract

This article studies a model of liability for automobile accidents in the coming world in which automobiles 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, in the model considered, 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 administer.

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Suggested Citation

Shavell, Steven, On the Redesign of Accident Liability for the World of Autonomous Vehicles (September 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26220. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3450246

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