Injuries happen from both old and current technologies, and the legal system is setting forth different ways to deal with new types of hazards
Technology is intended to make our lives easier, but sometimes it can cause problems. Injuries from new tech like drones, self-driving cars, wearables and AI are increasing, and personal injury law is keeping up with the changes.
As our lives become more intertwined with technology, the landscape of personal injury law is rapidly evolving. From self-driving cars to wearable tech, emerging technologies are redefining how we live, work, and even get injured. Let's delve into how these advancements are reshaping legal challenges, regulations, and the types of injuries people are experiencing.
As of 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported over 30 accidents involving autonomous vehicles. Relative to the number of self-driving cars on the road, this figure is significant.
Also consider technology like drones; the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported nearly 3,000 drone-related injuries in the years between 2016 and 2018. And, wearable technology is ubiquitous but can cause injuries. One major tech company faced a recall of its fitness trackers after several users reported burns.
Let’s take a closer look at technology you might be using every day and what your legal options are if you get injured.
How new tech is changing the face of personal injury
These vehicles, while promising safer roads, are still in their infancy and not without faults.
They can cause a few types of injuries that include:
- Pedestrian accidents from unexpected movements of the vehicles; and
- Rear-end collisions because the AI might brake suddenly or fail to anticipate human-driven cars' actions.
- Software malfunctions can cause the cars to behave in unanticipated ways.
Popular for both recreation and business, drones are literally soaring in numbers.
There are a few types of injuries that have been caused by drones:
- Direct collisions from drones that crash into individuals, causing head or eye injuries; and
- Privacy concerns related to filming without consent, leading to emotional distress claims.
While smartwatches and fitness trackers promote health, they come with potential hazards.
The most likely types of injuries include:
- Distractions from individuals becoming too engrossed, leading to accidents;
- Electrical injuries from faulty batteries that can lead to burns or explosions.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI affects your life, whether you realize it or not. It’s not just robots or internet searches… even healthcare professionals are using AI for your treatment.
Types of injuries:
- Misdiagnoses happen in healthcare. If AI makes an incorrect recommendation, it could lead to patient harm.
- Job-related injuries in industries using AI-driven machinery. Malfunctions can result in accidents.
If you find yourself injured by one of these technologies, it's crucial to know your rights and how to seek compensation.
- Document everything, from the tech device itself to medical records, ensure you have a record.
- Save witnesses’ contact information. If someone saw what happened, their testimony could be vital to your claim.
Burden of proof
In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff (injured person) would need to prove that their injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
That means you’ll need to find the fault—was it a product defect? Operator error? Establishing exactly how the injury happened and who (or what) caused it will be the make-or-break factor of your case.
Be prepared to demonstrate your injury through medical records or other evidence.
Determining liability in tech-related personal injuries can be a complex process due to the multifaceted nature of technology and the involvement of multiple parties. Here's how liability is assessed for different types of emerging technologies:
Manufacturer liability vs. operator liability
Whether it’s self-driving cars, drones, or wearable tech, there could be liability on the part of the manufacturer if something goes awry. This is called product liability law, and there are three ways the manufacturer can be held responsible for a defect:
- Design defect, which is when the product is inherently flawed because it was not designed to be safe when used properly
- Manufacturing defect, which happens when a mistake is made during the production process, but the product would have been safe if manufactured according to its specifications
- Failure to warn, which is when a manufacturer does not include adequate warnings or instructions for the consumer to follow to use the product properly and safely.
For example, the manufacturer of a self-driving car must provide regular software updates. If the software or hardware is inherently flawed, or if the manufacturer does not keep the vehicle’s software updated, that failure could make them accountable for an accident. However, if the accident was caused because the human operator failed to oversee it properly, the person could be partially or fully liable.
With respect to drones, the considerations are similar. If the operator flies the device irresponsibly or in restricted areas, they could be held liable for any resulting injuries. In some commercial contexts, lack of proper training or certification might lead to liability.
What about AI?
Artificial intelligence affects your life more than you might realize. Here are a few ways an AI company could be liable in a health care setting:
- Algorithm errors. If an AI system makes a wrong decision due to coding or data errors, the developer or company that created the system might be held responsible.
- Lack of transparency. Companies that use opaque algorithms without explaining how decisions are made might face liability if those decisions lead to harm.
- Misapplication of AI. If a healthcare provider misuses AI, leading to a wrong diagnosis or treatment, they might be held accountable.
Determining liability in tech-related personal injuries often requires a detailed analysis of the incident, technology involved, actions of the human users, and potentially applicable laws and regulations. As these cases are intricate, the guidance of a personal injury lawyer with expertise in technology-related claims becomes essential.
This professional can navigate the complexities of the law, consult with technology experts, and ensure that the right parties are held responsible. They will also help victims understand the legal principles applicable to their specific situation, such as strict liability, negligence, or breach of warranty, all vital in proving fault in these cases.
As in any personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff (injured person) needs to establish certain elements in order to:
- Establish duty: Show that the defendant had a duty to provide a safe product or service
- Prove breach: Demonstrate that this duty was breached
- Show causation: Link the breach to your injury
- Quantify damages: Detail the physical, emotional and financial harm
The intersection of technology and personal injury law is vast and continually evolving. New technologies offer promise but also present unique legal challenges, from determining liability to navigating regulations.
If you've been injured by technology, seeking legal guidance is vital. A personal injury lawyer experienced in technology-related cases will understand these complex issues and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Remember, the legal landscape is as complex as the technologies themselves, but with the right help, you can navigate it successfully.