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Product Liability Comes in Many Forms

May 22, 2016

Google Self-Driving Cars – Auto Product Liability Issues

Product liability is a relatively important section of personal injury law. Where products are defective and are also mass-produced, this defect, if dangerous, can conceivably cause injury to quite a few people. There are different types of product defects: design, manufacturing and ineffective warnings. Where one defect type does not apply however, another could.Take the Google self-driving cars for an example: recently reports have come in about the Google self-driving cars getting into accidents with other vehicle. Many have assumed that it is a mechanical issue that is causing these accidents, implying that the vehicle are defective in their manufacturing.

However, a review of the publicly available reports that Google filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles reveals that the Google cars themselves were not the responsible party. Each incident seemingly took place when the Google car was either at a complete stop or traveling at 5 mph at most – the car is then rear-ended by another vehicle, which is driven by a living person. However – can the accidents truly be written off as human error in their entirety?

The drivers of the vehicles that rear-ended the Google cars are not entirely without recourse – one may argue that the Google cars have a design defect. Google is a very well known entity – anyone who sees a Google Maps Street View car, stops whatever s/he is doing and spends a minute looking at the car. Google incurs interest in people. The Google self-driving cars bring with them the promise of less accidents, safer roads and likely a better driving style – they also bring distraction. The Google cars have the Google logo splashed on them, with a notation that informs people they are self-driving vehicles; they have spinning laser scanner on top of their roof – with these design elements, the cars are flashy and attention grabbing. People would crane their heads to see the car better, perhaps whip out their phone to take a picture and show their friends. The distraction they cause could be the reason behind the inattentiveness of the drivers around them.

Photo Credit: smoothgroover22 via Flickr / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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