Saturday, January 19, 2008

Who Is At Fault When A Right Is Wrong?

Many of you have probably already heard about the recent accident involving a driver in a rental car who, following the directions given to him by his sat nav device, turned onto railroad tracks. When the car got stuck he was able get out before it was then hit by a train. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. However, apparently the driver is being held responsible for damages caused to the train and the rental car.

The following link was forwarded to me by a reader of Spatial Law: It is by a lawyer who raises the question as to whether the driver might sue the manufacturer of the device for providing improper directions, which resulted in the accident As I have noted before, I believe that this scenario raises an important issue for the industry. The author of the article addresses the potential liability of the device manufacturer. However, a plaintiff's lawyer will likely sue everyone in the chain (data provider, device manufacturer, software developer, etc.) and let the court system determine and/or allocate liability.

The article has caused a great deal of reaction in the spatial technology industry with many people suggesting that the driver is totally at fault. I expect that it will also generate some interest in members of the legal community as well -- some of whom having a different point of view.

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