Multiple parties could be liable for robot-caused injuries

Robotic machines play an increasing role in many Arizona workplaces. When robots malfunction, injuries can result, and the people harmed by the machines might have a personal injury or products liability claim that involves multiple parties, including the manufacturer of the robot, the programmer, operators or maintenance technicians.

For example, the alleged failures of a robotic surgical system built by Intuitive Surgical, Inc. produced a product liability lawsuit seeking $30 million in damages. The plaintiff claimed that the machine inflicted severe injuries while performing a hysterectomy. The suit was settled after it had gone to the jury.

In manufacturing environments, insufficient safety measures or malfunctioning robots sometimes injure repair technicians. Robot manufacturers strive to avoid injuries with multiple levels of safety features such as compression plates that shut off a machine when a person steps close or lockout or tag out systems. Plant managers often employ third-party experts to evaluate safety systems, but problems most often occur during a machine malfunction that requires technicians to enter the robot work area and turn it on, which could result in an unexpected robot action.

Other issues that could result in liability after a robot injures someone could be a machine that had insufficient warning labels or a defective design. A victim could speak with a lawyer about making a claim for damages. A products liability lawsuit could enable the victim to collect compensation even if the company did not knowingly make mistakes or perform negligently because the producer has a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of products. A lawyer could document the evidence that shows that the defective product caused the injury.

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  • United States District Court | District Of Arizona
  • Maricopa Country Bar Association
  • State Bar Of Arizona
  • United States Court Of Appeals | Ninth Circuit

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