EU plans to shift burden of proof in accidents caused by autonomous cars

AI cars

Source: pixabay/julientromeur

EU plans to shift burden of proof in accidents caused by autonomous cars

The technology for autonomous driving is improving all the time and the first legal regulations are already emerging. In the future, autonomous vehicles will regularly participate in road traffic. In doing so, they will be controlled by artificial intelligence. Inevitably, this raises the question of liability.
Who will pay if an AI makes a decision that leads to an accident?

To be better prepared for this question, the EU Commission is planning to modernize the European liability rules for defective products after almost 40 years.
On the one hand, it wants to produce a revised product liability directive and, on the other, a new directive for AI liability is to be drawn up.
This is intended to give companies legal certainty so they can invest in new products. In addition, victims are to be adequately compensated if they have suffered damage because of AI.

On the one hand, the EU Commission is seeking to reverse the burden of proof in individual cases. Up to now, the manufacturer has had to pay for all damage caused by a defective product within the scope of product liability. However, the injured party must prove that the damage was caused by the product in question.
This means that victims would have to try to understand and navigate the complex AI systems to make a credible case that the AI caused the accident. To address these difficulties, a presumption of causality will be used. The presumption of causation implies that for certain fault, "a causal connection with the AI performance can reasonably be assumed."

As further goal, the EU Commission wants to give victims of AI more options to seek legal compensation. In cases involving high-risk AI systems, there is to be a right of access to evidence held by companies and providers. Aggrieved parties should be able to demand from providers such things as training or test records, data from technical documentation and logs, or information about quality management systems. To ensure that trade secrets are protected, in such cases a court is to check that only data that is required is disclosed.

The EU Commission wants to strike a balance between protecting consumers and promoting innovation. In addition to removing obstacles for victims to access compensation, it also wants to establish guarantees for the AI sector, for example the right to challenge a liability claim based on the presumption of causality.

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