During the past several years Toyota has had to endure litigation concerning the technology in its vehicles that assists with driving. Several plaintiffs have filed suit alleging that a defect in the car caused unintended acceleration in the vehicle. While the early cases focused on things like car mats and gas pedals, later arguments began to target the car’s computer technology as being faulty. It was a revolutionary argument from the plaintiffs that, given the pervasiveness of technology in our lives today, seems to make sense. After all, who hasn’t had a smartphone or computer go completely wonky on them? Toyota has been defending with the argument that driver error is the main reason for the acceleration accidents. After all, the most notable cases have been with those of those drivers being older. Toyota seems to argue that it can’t be a coincidence that one specific demographic appears to have an issue with a technology. It seems as though a jury believed the plaintiffs and Toyota has been looking into settling the claims once it became apparent that punitive damages are a possibility. Toyota has had to issue several waves of recalls to properly deal with the expanding problem among its vehicles.
Of course, these cases cause a ripple effect in the entire car industry. Computer bugs are a common phenomenon, and if they risk lives car manufacturers need to mitigate the risk these errors will cause. Cars today are increasingly being equipped with sensors and other technology designed not only to track driver behavior but to anticipate and reduce user error when it comes to calculating safe distances or assessing road conditions, for example.
This new issue in tort law is especially important given the move toward driverless technology. Google has been experimenting with driverless cars on America’s roadways. Such cars have racked up thousands of miles. The claim from Google is that such cars can be safer for drivers, as the technology will track the distance between cars, anticipate accidents, and eliminate faulty driver behavior. These are lofty claims and time will tell whether this will come to fruition.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.