Although self-driving cars are undoubtedly the wave of the future, they are not perfect just yet. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has investigated dozens of crashes involving Tesla vehicles believed to be using partially automated driving systems. Now, in a trial currently underway against Tesla in a California court, a lawyer for the plaintiff has criticized car manufacturers for selling “experimental vehicles” to consumers.
According to Reuters, the civil case stems from a 2019 accident in which a Tesla Model 3 — said to be equipped with a “beta” version of the full-self-driving package — suddenly veered off a highway at 65 miles per hour, hit a palm tree, and burst into flames. The crash killed the driver and seriously injured his two passengers, including an 8-year-old boy. The lawsuit blames Tesla’s Autopilot for the collision, and accuses Tesla of knowing the safety systems were defective when the car was sold.
Tesla Autopilot Accidents
The 2019 crash is unfortunately far from the only incident involving Tesla Autopilot technology. A Washington Post analysis of NHTSA data shows that over 700 U.S. crashes have involved Teslas in Autopilot mode, at least 19 of them fatal. Currently pending are at least 10 Tesla Autopilot lawsuits, some claiming the technology caused a collision and others claiming it failed to avoid one.
Examples of fatal car accidents where Tesla’s self-driving systems may have played a role include the following:
- Florida (2019) — A man was killed in Delray Beach when his Tesla crashed into a semi-truck at nearly 70 mph. Evidence suggests that the Autopilot system did not consistently detect and track the truck.
- Utah (2022) A Tesla in Autopilot struck a Harley Davidson from behind on an interstate outside Salt Lake City, throwing the motorcyclist to the ground and killing him.
- California (2023) — A Tesla crashed into another car head-on in South Lake Tahoe. The driver of the other vehicle later died of his injuries, as did a baby in the back seat of the Tesla.
Tesla Autopilot Investigations
In recent years, Tesla has come under scrutiny by federal regulators over the automaker’s self-driving safety claims. In July, NHTSA opened an investigation into more than 800,000 Teslas to evaluate the company’s Autopilot system after reports that it had caused some cars to crash into stationary emergency vehicles. The agency has also investigated at least 35 accidents involving Tesla vehicles suspected of operating on a partially automated driving system.
Massachusetts Tesla Accident Lawyers
If you have been seriously hurt in a crash involving a Tesla or another self-driving vehicle, it is important to seek legal help from a local attorney who specializes in these types of cases. A qualified personal injury lawyer will work to protect your rights and help you seek compensation for medical bills, lost income, and even the wrongful death of a loved one.
At Altman & Altman LLP, we understand the unique aspects of self-driving car crashes and can assist you in navigating the complex legal system. Our skilled Boston car accident lawyers will help you gather evidence, including witness statements, police reports, accident reconstructions, and any surveillance footage of the collision.
In Massachusetts, car accident lawsuits must be filed within three years of the crash. The earlier you start building your case, however, the better your chances of a successful outcome. So contact us by phone or online as soon as possible after your accident for a free consultation on your Tesla Autopilot case.