Are you responsible if your smart car gets hacked?

Years ago, cars were purely mechanical in nature. The modern vehicle, however, usually has any number of sophisticated electronic components. Some modern "smart" cars even have computers that are capable of steering the vehicle.

Everybody knows that any computer can likely be hacked -- and that could lead to accidents. If someone on the other end of a keyboard disables your vehicle in the middle of the road or takes over your controls and causes and accident, who is liable for the resulting damage and injuries? The answers may surprise you:

1. Your insurance company

Essentially, insurance follows your vehicle. Even if you aren't in control of the vehicle when it causes a wreck, your insurance company is likely to be the first place you or other victims would turn for compensation.

2. The car's manufacturer

Automobile manufactuers aren't oblivious to the possibility that their vehicles can be hacked. They have a certain obligation to add security or failsafes into their vehicles to try to stop anyone from interfering with their operation. If an overlooked flaw in the car's electronic security left you vulnerable to a cyber attack, the manufacturer may be liable for your injuries and the injuries of others involved in the wreck.

3. Other drivers involved

Even if someone took control of your vehicle, other drivers have a responsibility for obeying traffic laws and responding to sudden dangers. It's always possible that an accident could have been avoided if the other driver had acted appropriately.

4. The hackers themselves

Naturally, whoever hacked your car's computer would likely bear responsibility for any damages. The problem, naturally, is that they may not have any assets to claim even if you can track them down.

Regardless of how you ended up in a motor vehicle accident, you have every right to find out more about how what compensation you could be due.

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Vincent J. DeSalvo, Attorney at Law
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