Tesla Admits Autopilot Is Not Accident Proof After Latest Car Crash

CBS New reported last week that another one of their vehicles that was in Autopilot mode was involved in a traffic accident. On May 29 a 65 year old man drove his Tesla sedan into a parked Laguna Beach, CA, police vehicle. Luckily the police officer was not in his vehicle at the time of the car crash, and the Tesla owner suffered only minor injuries.

I’m posting this story, not to rehash what I have discussed the last several weeks, but rather to point this statement they made after this latest accident:

““When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times,” the company said in a statement after Tuesday’s crash. “Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents, and before a driver can use Autopilot, they must accept a dialogue box which states that ‘Autopilot is designed for use on highways that have a center divider and clear lane markings.’”

It’s clear to me at this point that despite all the “safety” claims made by industry experts, the autopilot technology is not fool proof. There still will be auto accidents. Also, it’s important to point out that autopilot should only be used on the highway. If that is the case, then why on earth was this gentleman driving in autopilot on a Laguna Beach side street? If the technology didn’t fail in that situation, then an argument could be made by Tesla that the owner/driver was negligent for putting his vehicle in autopilot at the wrong time.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then please call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Another Tesla Autopilot Crash Leads To More Legal Questions

The Associated Press is reporting another Tesla car crash, which was allegedly traveling about 60 miles per hour, when it rear-ended a fire truck stopped at a red light. The driver sustained a broken right ankle, told police that her car was in autopilot mode and failed to brake before the violent impact decimated its front end.

This is is the fourth Tesla involved in a traffic crash this year while cruising in autopilot.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into the matter. “Consistent with NHTSA’s oversight and authority over the safety of all motor vehicles and equipment, the agency has launched its special crash investigations team to gather information on the South Jordan, Utah, crash.” the agency said in statement Wednesday. “NHTSA will take appropriate action based on its review.”

For me, the most crucial aspect of this particular case is whether the vehicle owner will seek damages against Tesla for her injuries. Typically in a case like this, the party that rear-ended another vehicle would not be able to seek damages for her injuries as she was the one that was at-fault for the car accident. Our civil justice systems allows parties to seek reimbursement for economic and non-economic damages against at-fault parties. In this case, if the driver can prove that the Tesla software failed by not stopping on time, then she could seek damages under a product liability claim. Unfortunately, product liability cases are very expensive due to the high costs of experts in these types of cases. Regardless, I think the driver here would have a very strong case based on the facts that we know. There are no allegations that the fire truck she rear-ended doing anything wrong. It was merely sitting idle at a red light. The question is whether an attorney will want to take on the cost for this type of case for just a broken ankle.

Another interesting question will be whether the driver’s insurance carrier will seek a subrogation claim against Tesla for the cost of repair or replacing the damaged vehicle. The insurance company could easily ask for reimbursement for the repair or replacement of the vehicle if the evidence continues to show that their driver did nothing wrong. Again, the subrogation claim would most likely come under product liability. This could be the rare situation where a plaintiff personal injury attorney and auto insurance company team up together for the same common goal.

These are some of the very intriguing issues that continue to arise from car accidents stemming from self-driving cars.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Tesla Driver Recreates Fatal Autopilot Accident

It was reported in multiple news outlets that an owner of Tesla Model X, crashed into a concrete barrier and died  last month in Mountain View, California. The vehicle was in autopilot at the time of the accident.  According to reports, the vehicle had the choice to veer right or left, did not break, and the autopilot sensors did not detect the concrete block, causing the fatal accident.

The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident. Tesla, release the following statement regarding this fatal car crash:

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”

Essentially, Tesla is attempting to put the blame back on the driver.

Another Tesla Model X owner recreated the accident himself and recorded the test on his phone. You can watch the video here.

I think it is fair for us to conclude that this is not a true “autopilot.” The driver still needs to be aware as what is going on and be on alert as to any warnings that may come. Further, I don’t believe Tesla’s software still has flaws as do other self-driving vehicles, or we wouldn’t continue to see these fatal traffic accidents.

The litigation that is coming our way with these car accidents is going to be very expensive. There is no doubt in my mind that this will all be very expensive litigation, in part, due to the expert testimony that will be required to try to prove that Tesla’s software systems are faulty . Second, there will be lawsuits and cross-claims between parties as none of the parties involved or their insurers are going to want to take responsibility for the fatalities.  This will be on top of the normal lawsuits against the individual driver, who most likely holds an individual auto policy. This is going to lead to a lot of finger pointing and litigation. I will be interested to see what the NTSB concludes, and will be following this closely.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Self-Driving Tesla Involved in Fatal Traffic Accident

 

Self driving cars are the wave of the future. That is what you will hear from the people at Google and electric car manufacturer, Tesla. Manufacturers state that the technology is foolproof and completely safe. Unfortunately, this may not be true as of yet. News hit the wires over the weekend that a motorist whose Tesla vehicle was on autopilot while driving in Florida, was involved in a fatal car crash with semi tractor trailer.  According to news reports On May 7th at 3:40 p.m. on U.S. in Williston, Florida, 45-year-old Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S went under the trailer of an 18-wheel semi and the roof of his car was torn off by the impact.

According to Tesla’s press release, this is their assessment of what happened:

“Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also responded fatal traffic accident on twitter. He stated that the Tesla’s radar did not detect the truck because of its height, and thus the radar probably confused it with an overhead traffic sign.

This is obviously a sad and tragic event. But it also proves that self driving cars are not immune to car accidents, let alone traffic fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating the accident. How does this event affect the family and/or estate of the deceased driver? Well, if it is found that the truck was at fault for negligently pulling out in front of the deceased, then the truck driver could be held accountable in a normal negligence and wrongful death cause of action. The family could also sue Tesla under a product liability or auto defect count. Their attorneys could plead and argue (with expert testimony) that Tesla’s safety system was defectively designed and built because it could not properly detect the difference between a truck and an overhead highway traffic sign.

Regardless, I believe it is fair to say the self driving vehicles are not completely safe and there may need to be modifications as the technology moves forward.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or from a Chicago auto defect, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.