Tesla Faces Increasing Scrutiny and Lawsuits After Vehicles Allegedly In Autopilot Mode Crashed Into Stationary Emergency Vehicles
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (May 23, 2022) – Tesla is facing renewed scrutiny after numerous people have been killed or seriously injured when their vehicles have crashed while in Autopilot mode.
Three people recently died in Newport Beach after a Tesla Model S crashed into parked construction equipment on Pacific Coast Highway. It remains unknown if the Tesla involved in that crash was in Autopilot mode.
However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation to look into that possibility. In all, the NHTSA is aware of at least 11 instances when a Tesla vehicle in Autopilot mode has crashed into a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights.
A 27-year-old California Tesla driver has been ordered to stand trial after a 2019 Autopilot crash that killed a couple on their first date. As of May 24, 2022, this is the first prosecution of a person in a semi-autonomous vehicle.
Part of the problem is that people don’t always understand what their Tesla vehicles are capable of. Despite what the name would suggest, Autopilot is not a self-driving system.
Liability For Tesla Autopilot Crashes
For nearly two decades, Tesla has created some of the most advanced vehicles on the road. They are pioneers of both electric vehicles and software-guided driving systems. Every single Tesla created after the original Roadster has come with a version of its Autopilot software. Autopilot can apply the brakes, accelerate, change lanes and keep a vehicle within a lane of traffic. But it can’t read traffic signs and is not a replacement for an alert attentive driver that can take over at any moment.
- Autopilot has had trouble in the past identifying certain types of lane markings.
- Autopilot has had trouble identifying the presence of trucks right next to it.
- Autopilot is supposed to disengage if drivers continuously take their hands off the wheel. But people have found ways to bypass this system.
- Autopilot should be able to recognize stopped vehicles and slow down, but this has not always happened.
All car manufactures have a legal responsibility to make vehicles and vehicle software that is reasonably safe. They must also warn about the non-obvious dangers associated with the use of their products. If a car company like Tesla, Honda or BMW makes a vehicle that is unreasonably dangerous this could form the basis of a product liability claim. Tesla or another car company could also be liable for an accident if they fail to warn about the dangers associated with their products.
Consider, for example, the lawsuit filed on behalf of several police officers injured when a Tesla Model X in Autopilot crashed into their stopped vehicle. According to the attorneys representing the police officers, the collision was due to “design and manufacturing defects known to Tesla, Tesla’s failure to adequately warn of those defects, and Tesla’s unwillingness to admit or correct such defects, the Autopilot and Tesla’s system safety features failed to detect the officers’ cars or to function in any way to avoid or warn of the hazard and subsequent crash.” There are a number of steps that should be taken after any crash involving a Tesla.
- Surveillance footage of the accident should be sought.
- Camera footage from the Tesla’s 8 cameras should be examined.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- It should be determined if the Tesla was in Autopilot mode.
Any person that is injured in a collision with a Tesla in Autopilot mode may be able to seek damages through a product liability claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. Sadly, though, car companies like Tesla will fight hard to deny any responsibility for an accident involving their vehicles or software. A product liability attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating A Tesla Autopilot Crash
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our best wishes to all of the people who have been injured in car accidents with Tesla vehicles. It is our sincere hope that measures will be taken to make these vehicles safer. At the end of the day, Autopilot is supposed to help make roads safer. But this technology should not be rushed to market before it is ready.
Have you or someone that you love been injured in an accident with a Tesla? You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our team of personal injury attorneys are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that accident victims get the medical and financial support that they need to recover. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into an accident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (516) 908-9792.