In an interesting article in Forbes magazine, tort law expert Michael I. Krauss, from my alma mater, George Mason University, talks about some of the emerging legal issues around self-driving cars. He’s more skeptical about the safety of the new technology than I am, but he is exactly right in saying that the rise of autonomous vehicles will require an evolution of existing tort law, especially in terms of product liability.
If a car crashes while in self-driving mode, Krauss argues, traditional product liability issues will arise: Was there a manufacturing defect? Was there an informational defect in the way the risks were conveyed to the driver? Was there a design defect in the way the car was programmed?
There is a brave new world ahead for car and truck safety, and the changes are coming at us quickly already. All of us should stay on top of the risk issues, and personal injury lawyers and insurance law experts have an especially useful roll to play in helping legislators keep our laws and regulations ahead of the curve.