Several self-driving Tesla car accidents have occurred over the last few years, and the company keeps blaming drivers for the mistakes. Is the answer really that straightforward, though? Who is really at fault for the crashes?
Below we’re going to dive into the specifics of one particular case, as well as what the investigations into these crashes have turned up, then talk about what Florida product liability laws have to do with cases like these.
Tesla Blames Driver for Recent Car Crash
The family of a man from Mountain View, Calif. is suing Tesla Inc. for wrongful death after his SUV crashed into a concrete barrier and collided with two other vehicles in March.
The company states that the driver knew the Autopilot function was not reliable in the location where the crash occurred, but he used it anyway. Tesla Inc. says the crash occurred when visibility was good and the weather was clear, indicating that the fault lies with the driver, not the vehicle.
The Tesla Autopilot feature regulates several driving functions without input from the driver. It automatically navigates lanes, adjusts cruise control, and turns into other lanes when the turn signal is on as long as conditions are safe.
The Autopilot function on Tesla vehicles requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. If the driver removes his or her hands from the wheel, sounds and visual alerts are enacted. On the day of the accident, the alerts sounded and flashed several times before the driver died. However, drivers don’t always heed the alerts.
The attorneys for the driver’s family claim that the Autopilot feature was defective and played a role in his death. Even though Tesla has refused to make further statements about how many times the alarms sounded that day, the Autopilot system is supposed to disengage after a certain number of alerts.
The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating two other cases of Tesla crashes. In May 2016, a Florida man died in a high-speed crash when relying too much on the Tesla Autopilot system. In August 2017, an owner lost control of his Tesla due to a battery fire and crashed into his garage.
The NTSB has recommended that automakers who install semi-autonomous systems enact other measures to ensure that the system is not used. GM uses a camera system to track when a driver is looking forward. Only then will the semi-autonomous system work.
What Does This Have to Do with Product Liability Law in Florida?
The big question here is whether or not Tesla has a defective product in their vehicles with Autopilot. Here are the forms of product liability cases related to vehicles in Florida.
If the vehicle design presents a hazard to you, you may be able to hold the manufacturer liable for injuries. A skilled attorney will know whether the vehicle design played a role in your injury.
If a part was damaged during the manufacturing process, it could present an unreasonable hazard.
Failure to Warn
In these cases, the vehicle manufacturer knew about the risks but failed to properly warn the consumer of them.
Do these apply to Autopilot? It’s probably going to depend a lot on the specific circumstances of each crash. Which is why if you’re injured, you need to…
Talk to a Florida Injury Lawyer Immediately
If you have been injured in a car crash and you believe it was due to a vehicle defect, you need the help of a knowledgeable Florida personal injury attorney. Someone with years of experience who will fight hard against the auto manufacturers and insurance companies on your behalf. Call today for your free case review.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.