Technology and the Law

Posted by Scott Edwards | Mar 13, 2020

Today I'm not working at the office. Instead, I am sitting on hard wooden bleachers at the Clackamas Academy for Industrial Sciences—a middle school in Oregon City Oregon. I'm here watching my oldest son, Caden, compete in his first Robotics team competition. I have been absolutely amazed by the technology these kids have been able to use to accomplish their mission. Just a few short months ago they learned what they had to do—essentially build a robot (droid) to accomplish a Star Wars themed mission to grab balls (power cells) and deposit them into goals (power ports) in order to recharge shield batteries to ensure maximum protection from an incoming asteroid shower. For the first fifteen seconds of the competition, the robots must perform automatically—performing only what they have been coded to perform. After those initial seconds, team members grab controls and remotely control their robots. For those actually interested, you can click here and watch the mission reveal video.

The students essentially designed, constructed, coded, and controlled their robot from scratch. I'm astonished by the many unique designs the teams come up with. As I sit here watching technology in action—brought to life by high school STEM students—I couldn't help but reflect how technology is changing and will continue to change the world in which we live.

Cars are becoming smarter and more automatous every day. They can be summoned from their garage or parking place to their driver's would be location. They alert you when you're drifting in your lane, or stop suddenly when an obstacle is presented. It really is quite miraculous. This type of technology will undoubtedly change the roadways we so often take for granted. It will also change the legal world many of us never even think about. I can certainly envision a time when I will no longer bring a negligence claim against the “driver” of a vehicle who rear-ends another vehicle, but against the designer, manufacturer, or seller of a car which was technologically incapable of preventing the collision from occurring in the first place.

Such a situation is certainly an interesting one to think about. This is especially so, at least for me and other personal injury attorneys who represent those injured in car crashes. Even if the thought isn't taken to this extreme, it is easy to think of technology failures even today that could lead to a negligence claim against a car designer or manufacturer. Claims related to the automatic braking, the air bags, and even cruise control come to mind. These types of cases are already something the lawyers at Schauermann Thayer are researching and making sure we on the cutting edge of the law in the same way these high school students are on the cutting edge of technology.

About the Author

Scott Edwards

Scott Edwards is a partner at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards law firm. Scott is licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and has been practicing law since 2008. Though Scott started his career working for insurance companies, he now focuses his practice on personal injury, auto accident, biking accident, and insurance cases. In his free time, Scott enjoys spending time pedaling around the streets of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon on his bicycle.

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