Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

2016

Center/Program

Center for Law and Philosophy

Abstract

The most striking development in the American tort law of the last century was the quick rise and fall of strict manufacturers’ liability for the huge social losses associated with the use of industrial products. The most important factor in this process has been the inability of the courts and academic commentators to develop a workable theory of design defects, resulting in a wholesale return of negligence as the basis of products liability jurisprudence. This article explains the reasons for this failure and argues that the development of digital technology, and the advent of self-driving cars in particular, is likely to force a comprehensive rethinking of products liability, a large-scale return to the principle of strict manufacturers’ responsibility, and a host of other developments of lasting historical and economic significance. The article argues that an integration of manufacturing and insurance industries may be one of these developments.?

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