Most people know that computers and other Internet-enabled devices are vulnerable to hacking, but many don't realize that this susceptibility extends to vehicles as well. Recent articles on this topic have exposed just how at risk the driving population is to having their vehicles digitally carjacked by anonymous bad actors through the wireless components found in the cars. If you are involved in an accident because you were hacked while on the road, you may have a viable lawsuit against the manufacturer. Here's more information about pursuing a case against an automotive company for hacked vehicles.
About Digital Carjacking
Almost all vehicles today have a computer system that monitors and runs all of the cars' components. In the past, however, the only way to hack a vehicle's computer system was by directly connecting to the car. The risk of digital carjacking was minimal, because the perpetrator had to have physical access to the vehicle to take it over.
Unfortunately, manufacturers began installing components inside the cars that allow onboard systems to communicate with other computer systems using wireless technology and even let the driver and passengers connect to the Internet while on the road. While providing a lot of convenience, this technology has also given hackers the ability to connect wirelessly to vehicles' onboard systems and take them over from anywhere in the world.
As you can imagine, this can be disastrous for anyone who happens to be in or around a vulnerable vehicle. Although the discovery is somewhat new, it's only a matter of time before people with malicious intent begin taking advantage of this knowledge. If you are harmed in a car accident caused by a hacked vehicle, you may be able to hold the manufacturer responsible and collect compensation for your injuries by filing a product liability lawsuit against them.
Product Liability Lawsuit
Using product liability laws, you can prove the company is liable for your injuries and losses by showing the vehicle's computer system was either defectively manufactured, defectively designed, and/or did not come with adequate warning about the risks or instructions for use. Each of these claims has a different legal meanings and requirements for proof.
This claim requires you to show the vehicle came off the assembly line wrong, that a flaw or error was introduced while it was being manufactured that caused the car or truck to become vulnerable to hacking. For instance, a technician forgets to upload a software patch designed to keep outsiders from accessing the onboard system. If a hacker exploited the hole left open by this oversight, then the company could be held responsible for the damage that resulted.
With this claim, you're basically stating there were flaws or defects built into the computer system's design; thus, making the entire line of vehicles dangerous. An example of this is the research done by Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek. These computer experts hacked into a well-known SUV and showed that any vehicle using automotive company's Internet-connected system was vulnerable to being taken over.
To prove this claim, you'll likely need to show that multiple vehicles in the line have the same problem and not just yours. This may be easier than showing defective manufacturing because other people are more likely to come forward with the same problems and complaints.
+Failure to Adequately Warn or Instruct
Successfully proving this claim involves showing the company failed to adequately warn users about the hacking risk or providing instructions on the proper way to use the computer system to avoid a hacking attempt. For instance, an automotive company who knows its computer system is vulnerable to hacking but doesn't relay that information to customers could be on the hook for damages. Additionally, if there are things customers should do to reduce their risk of hacking—such as take the vehicles in for regular software updates—and the company fails to notify them of this, it could be held liable as well.
Proving any of these claims will likely require the assistance of a computer expert who can look at the system and point to the company's manufacturing or design as being the source of the problem. It's essential that you connect with a car crash attorney who can help you secure the required proof and expert testimony needed to successfully litigate your case.