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Who is Liable When Your Car Gets Hacked?

Posted on in Car Accidents

your car gets hacked, McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer, car accidentThe potential problem of hackers attacking cars has been a frequent concern; however, a recent experiment conducted by a pair of computer security experts, in which researchers remotely took control of a Jeep Cherokee SUV, has again brought these concerns back into the public eye.

The experiment has brought up interesting legal implications—one of the easiest actions discovered in hack experiment was that a car accident can be caused by remotely interfering with a car's controls. These actions have led to the question, "Who is responsible for an accident if a car is hacked?"

The Recent Jeep Hack

The recent Jeep hack—a cyber security experiment—has prompted the recall of 1.4 million vehicles by Fiat. The vehicles come equipped with an Internet connection tied into a program that provides Wi-Fi access and interfaces with the computer's entertainment and navigation systems.

Through a vulnerability in the built-in software, the hackers were able to take control of a much wider array of the Jeep Cherokee SUV's functions, including changing the vehicle's speed, cutting brake lines, monitoring the vehicle's location, and obstructing a driver's view with wiper fluid.

Who Gets Sued in a Real Life Hack?

The obvious answer to the question of who should be sued for an actual accident caused by a cyber hack is the hackers. They could likely face criminal charges in addition to any personal injury lawsuits brought by those involved in a crash. However, that answer also ignores some practical realities. There are several ways hackers can cover their tracks. Moreover, hackers may not even be located in the U.S. in the first place.

Consequently, even if hackers are clearly the most responsible party, suing them may not actually be an option.

The next possible responsible party is a car's manufacturer. The theory here would be some sort of product liability lawsuit based on an unsafely designed car. A plaintiff would have to argue that his or her car was designed in an unreasonably dangerous way that allowed a hacker to take over the vehicle's control systems. This is certainly a plausible argument to make; however, since there have yet to be any cases brought on this issue, it is not clear whether the argument would be successful.

Finally, drivers of other vehicles involved in a crash may also be able to sue the owner of the hacked car. This would be viable in a more limited set of circumstances, such as if the manufacturer were already aware of the defect and had released a patch. An injured party could argue that if the car's owner took an unreasonably long time to update its security, then the attack was also the owner's responsibility in the same way that the owner is responsible for maintaining other car systems, such as keeping the car's brakes in good repair.

Speak with a Knowledgeable Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer Today A number of factors can cause car accidents—hackers, careless drivers, or adverse road conditions. If you have been injured in a car accident and want to learn more about your legal rights and options, please contact a knowledgeable McHenry County personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case. Sources:

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/hackers-remotely-kill-jeep-highway/

http://fortune.com/2015/07/24/jeep-cherokee-recall/

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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