AI and Tort Law

in Florian Martin-Bariteau & Teresa Scassa, eds., Artificial Intelligence and the Law in Canada (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2021)

Posted: 4 Dec 2020

See all articles by Kristen Thomasen

Kristen Thomasen

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law; University of Windsor, Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 2, 2020

Abstract

Tort law allows parties to seek remedies (typically in the form of monetary damages) for losses caused by a wrongdoer’s intentional conduct, failure to exercise reasonable care, and/or introduction of a specific risk into society. The scope of tort law makes it especially relevant for individuals who are harmed as a result of an artificial intelligence (AI)-system operated by another person, company, or government agent with whom the injured person has no pre-existing legal relationship (e.g. no contract or commercial relationship). This chapter examines the application of three primary areas of tort law to AI-systems. Plaintiffs might pursue intentional tort actions when an AI-system is used to intentionally carry out harmful conduct. While this is not likely to be the main source of litigation, intentional torts can provide remedies for harms that might not be available through other areas of law. Negligence and strict liability claims are likely to be more common legal mechanisms in the AI context. A plaintiff might have a more straightforward case in a strict liability claim against a wrongdoer, but these claims are only available in specific situations in Canada. A negligence claim will be the likely mechanism for most plaintiffs suffering losses from a defendant’s use of an AI-system. Negligence actions for AI-related injuries will present a number of complexities and challenges for plaintiffs. Even seemingly straightforward preliminary issues like identifying who to name as a defendant might raise barriers to accessing remedies through tort law. These challenges, and some potential opportunities, are outlined below.

Keywords: AI; tort; torts; canada

Suggested Citation

Thomasen, Kristen, AI and Tort Law (November 2, 2020). in Florian Martin-Bariteau & Teresa Scassa, eds., Artificial Intelligence and the Law in Canada (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3734655

Kristen Thomasen (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

University of Windsor, Faculty of Law ( email )

401 Sunset Avenue
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4 N9B 3P4
Canada

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