Document Type


Publication Date



This symposium contribution considers five recurring themes in the application of tort law to new technologies. First, the initial batch of cases presented to courts may be atypical of later lawsuits that implicate the innovation, yet relate rules with surprising persistence. Second, these cases may be identified, and resolved, by reference to analogies that rely on similarities in form, and which do not wear well over time. Third, it may be difficult to isolate the unreasonable risks generated by an innovation from the benefits it is perceived to offer. Fourth, potential claims by early adopters of the technology may be more difficult to identify and recover upon than those that arise later, once the technology develops a mainstream audience. Fifth, and finally, uncertainty among potential plaintiffs (and their counsel) regarding the existence of a cause of action and the likelihood of recovery may beget a dearth of claims that involve an innovation for a significant period of time after its initial appearance. In introducing and explaining these themes, this article considers the initial application of tort law to technologies such as automobiles, airplanes, radio and television, and Tasers.

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.