The technological revolution is far from over. Sometimes it seems like it’s just beginning. We’re connected in more ways than ever before. Our devices are connected. Self-driving cars are on their way to a street near you. You can control your gadgets and appliances from your phone.
But what happens when all this technology doesn’t work as planned? What happens when technology malfunctions in a way that causes harm? Here’s what you need to know about personal injury, product liability and the Internet of Things:
What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection of everyday devices to the web. Today, many appliances and gadgets come with an app. You can often control your devices with just a click from your phone. Not only are people connected all the time, but their devices are also connected. The Internet of Things is the name for the fact that our devices are connected to the Internet.
What Happens When the Internet of Things Malfunctions?
We depend on the Internet for hundreds of things every day. From setting your thermostat to warming up your car to even self-driving vehicles, the Internet of Things impacts our lives in so many ways. Unfortunately, the things that we depend on can malfunction in catastrophic ways. For example, one self-driving car can malfunction in a way that causes a fatal accident.
Personal Injury, Products Liability and the Internet of Things (IoT)
When products malfunction in the age of the Internet of Things, the legal liability that’s likely to result is products liability. Anyone who makes a product and puts it into the stream of commerce gives an implied guarantee that the product works as intended. That’s also true for goods and devices that connect to the Internet. When a product or its related software malfunctions, the product manufacturer has strict liability for the harm that results. If you’re hurt because of a product that’s a part of the Internet of Things, products liability is the most likely legal route you will take.
A product malfunction in the age of the Internet of Things might have multiple causes. There may be a design defect with the product. A software coding error might result in a malfunction causing a product to fail to work as intended. On the other hand, a product malfunction may result from hacking. While you certainly also have a claim against the hacker for intentional harm, you may also have a claim against the manufacturer of the product. A product manufacturer must take reasonable steps to keep their technology safe from hackers. If they fail to take reasonable steps to keep data secure, the result might be legal liability in the event of a hack or data breach.
Comparative Negligence and the Internet of Things
Are consumers going to be dragged into the fray? A product manufacturer could try to blame a consumer for leaving their data unsecured. A consumer might fail to change their password regularly or even after a data breach. They might choose a password that’s too easy to guess, or they might tell their password to someone else. Future court cases are certainly going to iron out the questions that arise when manufacturers try to pass the blame onto consumers when things go awry in the Internet of Things.
Making an Effective Case When Emerging Technology Is Involved
One of the challenges with bringing a case that involves emerging technology and the Internet of Things is that you must effectively tell a story to the judge and the jury. Judges aren’t always up to speed on the latest technology. To effectively present your case, you must present it in a way that the judge and the jury can understand clearly. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan once said, “The justices are not necessarily the most technologically sophisticated people.”
The technology gap can be a big problem for people who are victims when technology malfunctions. Court rulings can often lag behind in their understanding of technology. There are a few things to be mindful of when it comes to ensuring that you present your case effectively in light of varying knowledge of technology among judges and jury members.
First, it’s important to remember that you’re telling the jury a story. You’re going to have potential jurors that have a variety of experience and comfort with technology. It’s important to carefully evaluate how to explain the technology to the jury. You may need to use models, video illustrations and testimony to show the jury how the technology malfunctioned. Your opening and closing statements to the jury are also critical. If the jury can’t follow the evidence, they can’t find in your favor. It’s important to carefully prepare your case to ensure that the argument you plan to present effectively tells the jury what happened.
Second, remember that Nevada has rules and requirements for presenting technical evidence. You may need an expert witness to explain technical information to the jury. If a lay witness tries to explain technical details, the court might sustain an objection on the grounds that the witness isn’t qualified to testify to the subject matter. Nevada law 50.275 is the law for expert witnesses. If specialized technical knowledge can help the jury understand complex information, you can bring an expert to testify. You must make sure that the expert is qualified to testify to the subject matter to survive objections from the other party and present the information.
Legal Liability, Justice and the Internet of Things (IoT)
Have you been hurt because of a malfunctioning product? Are you wondering if you have a civil case in the age of IoT? Are you looking for compensation after sustaining an injury because of an app?
At Adam S. Kutner & Associates, we keep up to date with the latest developments in the law. We’re prepared to argue for changes, developments and extensions in the law if needed. If you’re hurt by a product that’s a part of the Internet of Things, contact our offices. We can talk to you about your case and help you understand what your legal options are.