This blog (or blawg) is dedicated to advocating legal protection to a population of individuals who this writer believes deserve to be recognized as a new suspect class – CYBORGS.
The dawn of the 21st Century has resulted in a rights revolution. Gay marriage is the law in the United States. Next in line for equal protection are those humans who by necessity or choice have merged with their machines – who for lack of a better word have become cyborgs.
Humans, particularly disabled humans, are increasingly merging with technology. Almost daily there is some new merger between biology and technology. Brain implants that allow a “locked in” patient to communicate through the electronic transmission of their thoughts, pancreatic insulin pumps, cochlear implants, and prosthetics that are controlled by the body’s nervous system.
As I have pointed out in my articles published in the New York Law Journal, “The Legal Rights of Cyborgs – Should Damage to a Prosthetic Be Considered Property Damage or Personal Injury? (NYLJ 3/25/15) and “Updating Tort Law For Advances in Prosthetics” (NYLJ 8/28/15) as well as at a symposium I moderated: THE NEW SUSPECT CLASS: Cyborgs – Should Damage to an Advanced Prosthetic be Personal Injury or Property Damage? (9/28/15 New York Bar Association), the law is lagging behind these technological developments.
To the extent a Cyborg suffers damage to a mechanical part, she may suffer lost earnings and lost enjoyment of life. She may lose her independence, her eyesight, her hearing or even lose the ability to communicate. Yet because this was caused by an injury to a mechanical and not a biological body part, the law would not allow her to recover for these injuries. The law would only allow a claim for property damage, not a claim for personal injury. While the property damage claim would allow a recovery of the repair or replacement value of the device, it would not provide her with damages for her lost abilities and independence or her lost earnings.
Likewise, employees who lose time from work due to an injury to a prosthetic or implant might be able to recover for repair or replacement value, but would not be able to recover for their lost time from work.
And even though medical insurance would pay for a dozen operations to restore function to an eye or an extremity, it would not provide coverage for an advanced prosthetic that would restore function to an amputee or blind person. Many policies contain $2500 -$5000 caps on prosthetics or limit the insured to one prosthetic per lifetime. Could anyone imagine being told by their insurance company that their policy limited them to a single heart procedure?
My intention is for this blog to be a focal point with regard to news and information relating to issues relating to the law of cyborgs. I hope you will contribute!