Who Can You Sue If You Were Injured By A Car That Was Hacked?

Some of the newer breeds of autos out there have more microprocessors, microchips, and Wi-Fi in them than the computer you're probably using, and they can get hacked. If one gets hacked, someone can take control of the car from a distance and turn it into one large, dangerous remote-controlled toy. If you get injured by a car that's been hacked, who can you sue to recover for your damages? 

You can sue the owner.

This might not sound fair because the owner was probably as much a victim of the hack (or more) than anyone else. Hackers can take control of any one of up to a 100 functions in some vehicles through relatively simple methods that they can learn online

While some hacks are akin to malicious pranks (like making the horn honk non-stop), other hacks include things like stopping a car cold in the middle of traffic or disabling the brakes. In some cases, the dangers are significant enough that owners of vulnerable cars have been notified. Their cars have been recalled, in order to install new safety features designed to prevent hacking.

While the owner of the vehicle might have been powerless to stop the hack once it began, he or she might have had ample opportunity to get his or her vehicle secured against electronic intrusions and prevent the hack in the first place.

You can sue the manufacturer.

Certain autos and SUVs out there have already been shown to be more susceptible to hacking than others. Even if the manufacturer tried to prevent the hacking, product manufacturing laws hold manufacturers to a strict liability where product defects are concerned.

Although the manufacturers may not have intended for their vehicles to ever be remotely manipulated (and may have even taken steps to prevent it), they're still responsible for the defect in the product that allows it to happen. That makes them ultimately responsible for any injuries that you suffer as a result.

You can sue the hacker.

This isn't nearly as impossible as it sounds. In 2010, the High Tech Crime Unit of Austin Texas tracked down and arrested a 20-year-old man for hacking into more than 100 cars in an act of revenge against his former employer, an auto dealership that had laid him off work. In some cases, he just set the horns of the vehicles blaring. In other cases, he totally disabled the vehicles.

As computer criminals get more clever, so do the detectives tasked with finding them. The viability of any claim you have against a hacker, however, might depend on the hacker's insurance and various assets.

Even if the hacker hasn't been found (or doesn't have any assets worth suing over), don't assume that you can't recover against the owner of the vehicle or the manufacturer instead. Talk to an attorney (such as one from Modesitt Law Offices PC) about your case as soon as possible.