Arizona Appellate Court Revives Plaintiff’s Claim that Vehicle that Struck Her was Defective By Virtue of Not Including Autonomous Safety Feature
In recent years, highly autonomous vehicles have acquired a reputation as a technology that is perpetually just a few years away. Meanwhile, their enormous promise continues to tantalize. AVs have the potential to transform American life in a variety of ways, reducing costs both large and small. From virtually eliminating the roughly 40,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries we suffer in car accidents every year to making it possible to commute to work while sleeping, AVs are seen as enormously promising.
Against this backdrop, many torts scholars have expressed concern that imposing liability on AV manufacturers threatens to slow or even deter AV development. When AVs take the wheel, will the companies that make them also take on liability for whatever crashes they can’t avoid? AV development also raises the possibility—much less commonly noticed—of new liability for manufacturers of conventional vehicles. If AVs are significantly safer, will courts and juries come to see conventional vehicles as defective? According to a recent Arizona appellate court opinion, the answer is… maybe so.