Can a Cyber Attack Lead to Personal Injury?

Published on: October 12, 2022
Last Updated: October 12, 2022
Most of us think that cyber terrorists attack only data from our computers. But can it actually lead to personal injury? Keep on reading to find out.
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Cyber-attacks have caused a lot of logistical headaches. However, as far as we know, most of the damage was done to our computers. As the systems have been hacked, most of them were rendered unusable, causing us to lose significant data.

But can it also lead to actual personal injury? Well, this depends on your perspective. Cyber-attacks can lead to personal injury, but it is often through indirect means. Read on and you will find out how.

Medical Breaches and Patient Injuries

When we think of cyber-attacks, we often think of them as a company being hacked, money being drawn illegally, and so on. However, this is not the only tactic used by cyber terrorists. An unfortunate yet legitimate fear is attacking the system of a hospital, causing confusion and wreaking havoc among the doctors.

Considering the flow of people going through hospitals, a high-tech hospital often relies on encrypted data and computers in order to run the machines. When these tools are compromised, the situation causes a fair danger to the clients, as some machines can no longer be used, and their data cannot be accessed. 

One unfortunate example of such a circumstance is a 78-year-old woman from Dusseldorf who suffered from an aortic aneurism and could not be admitted to the local university hospital as a result of a cyber-attack on their system. The woman was redirected to another hospital 32 km away, in Wuppertal, which delayed her treatment by about an hour. This delay would turn out to be fatal. 

hospital machines

More and more hospitals are subjected to ransomware cyber-attacks and made to give in to the demands of the cyber-terrorist. Files are being locked down, computers are knocked offline, and patients can be put in danger. This can eventually lead to personal injury.

Traffic Games

One more example of a cyber-attack that can lead to personal injury is the hacking of the traffic lights. Hackers discovered a way to hack into a traffic light, all the way through the Netherlands. While this did not lead to any accidents and mass collisions, as it was merely an experiment, it still holds a risk potential.

With the help of a laptop, an Internet connection, and a radio transmitter, along with a fair amount of skill, people can hack into traffic lights and wreak havoc. Just one single modified light can turn out fatal – for instance, one traffic light becoming green when it was supposed to stay red.

This can lead to the personal injury and potential death of more than one person. While the traffic lights technically “do not bother anyone,” they still give the driver directions. If a hacker attacks the traffic lights, disturbs the algorithm, and causes mass death, then the cyber-attack would be responsible for the personal injury of those persons involved in the accident. 

Can the Hacked Victim Be Sued?

Personal injury, whether caused by a cyber-attack or an actual, physical attack, may still leave long-lasting damage. For some, it may be damage caused by an accident. For others, it may be death caused by a delay. 

Regardless, someone has suffered through this, and they will seek compensation. In Clarksville, for instance, it is common to seek justice in cases where your private data was exposed to a security risk, whether you were physically injured or not. In this case, Clarksville personal injury attorneys can help you seek justice.


But will the company that was hacked be held liable for the breach? Well, this mostly depends on several factors. If all the necessary security measures were taken, and they adhered strictly to the security policy (like setting up a VPN), or they tried to remedy the problem as soon as they noticed it, then they might not be found liable. 

However, if they did not take appropriate reactions to remedy the situation once it appeared, or they failed to adhere to the security policy, then the injured person has every right to sue. A famous case for this is Morgan Stanley – he had to pay a $60 million settlement after a mistake led to a breach in personal data.

The Bottom Line

Cyber-attacks may indeed have the potential of leading to personal injury. Depending on the circumstances, more than one guilty party can be found. 

The first and the most obvious one is the cyber-terrorist who hacked the system. Still, the company that was hacked may also be held liable. This depends on whether they respected protocol for their security or not.

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Written by Allison Langstone

Allison produces content for a business SAAS but also contributes to EarthWeb frequently, using her knowledge of both business and technology to bring a unique angle to the site.
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