CNBC reports that those sci-fi-like, self-driven cars (“SDC’s”), also called “automated cars”, will account for half of all vehicles on the road by the year 2035, with the first ones hitting the market by 2020. (You can see one operated here). The first generation of these vehicles will require someone in the driver’s seat just in case the technology develops a problem–much like an aircraft autopilot. Truly independent SDCs requiring no human involvement will begin to be offered by 2030. (I blogged about these new cars here).
But CNBC also reports that Nissan Motor, one of the leaders of the new technology, cautioned that “because of the litigious nature of the American market, manufacturers might have to steer clear of the U.S. unless legislators take steps to protect the industry from a flood of frivolous lawsuits”.
Forgive my skepticism, Nissan, but that is pure baloney. First, why would you fear “frivolous” lawsuits? If the lawsuits are frivolous, you will beat them and they will cost you almost nothing. What you are really afraid of are meritorious lawsuits, ones that will hold you accountable for the death and destruction your negligent design may cause.
Your request for a free pass around tort law is not new. It’s the same damn argument car manufacturers have always made when they want to put a new product on the market: “Lawsuits will prevent progress”. But all of history proves the contrary; vigorous tort law does not inhibit progress, but ensures progress in safety. The seatbelt, the air bag, crash resistance, anti-lock brakes – all of these were catapulted into existence by lawsuits.
What Nissan really wants is a get-out-of-jail free card to negligently design and manufacture dangerous vehicles so it can stuff its pockets with fat profits at the expense of Americans’ safety. Don’t give it to them! Good old fashion American tort law is the best engine ever designed for holding greedy corporations, such as Nissan, to the task of building safety into their products.
Bottom line: The only thing standing between the American people and unsafe SDC’s is tort law. So let’s not let the automobile lobby get their way on this one!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Auto Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.