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. There was a witness to the accident which was driving a cascadia evolution.
This is is the fourth Tesla involved in a traffic crash this year while cruising in autopilot that needed to go to a collision center. 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.