Wrongful Death Lawsuit Stemming from Tesla Model X Autopilot CrashSeptember 19, 2019
This past May, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of Walter Huang, after he was killed on March 2018 in a Tesla Autopilot accident in Mountain View, California. Walter Huang was an Apple engineer, who died after the Tesla Autopilot car he was driving collided with a California highway median. The State of California DOT has also been named in the wrongful death lawsuit.
Did Telsa Autopilot Misread Lane Lines?
Alleging Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system misread the lane lines, the lawsuit further states that the car failed to detect the concrete median, failed to apply the brakes, and, instead, actually accelerated into the median. An attorney for Huang’s widow stated: “Mrs. Huang lost her husband, and two children lost their father because Tesla is beta testing its Autopilot software on live drivers.”
The wrongful death lawsuit also alleges Tesla failed to warn, engaged in false advertising, breach of product liability, and defectively designed the product. Further allegations state that Tesla intentionally and negligently misrepresented their product, engaging in breach of warranty, and defective product design resulting in a Tesla Autopilot accident. The California DOT was named because the median struck by Huang’s vehicle was missing its crash attenuator guard.
Tesla Denies Liability
Following Huang’s crash, Tesla released two blog posts, one which acknowledged Autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash, but also stating that Huang had received multiple visual and audible hands-on warnings earlier in the drive and that his hands were not detected on the wheel for a full six seconds prior to the collision. The NTSB was not pleased with the release of this information by Tesla, stating details about the incident should not have been released without authorization. Then, three weeks after the accident, Tesla issued a subsequent statement, placing the blame squarely on Huang, as the company denied any “moral or legal liability” for the collision.
Tesla claimed Huang was fully aware that Autopilot had issues, and even knew it was not reliable in that precise area, yet engaged Autopilot anyway. Tesla claims there were “several hundred feet of visibility,” leading to the conclusion that Huang was simply not paying attention, despite multiple warnings by Autopilot to do so. The NTSB found that the vehicle accelerated from 62 mph to nearly 71 mph in the three seconds prior to the impact, moving left as it approached the Highway 85 exit ramp. There was no pre-crash braking or evasive steering detected. The Model X was following a lead vehicle eight seconds prior to the crash, but at four seconds, the Tesla stopped following the lead vehicle, moving to the left.
Does Autopilot Give Drivers a False Sense of Security?
The wrongful death lawsuit claims the reason Huang died was because he believed Tesla’s advertising regarding the safety of the Autopilot system, and that the automatic emergency braking system of the vehicle should have either avoided or lessened the severity of the crash, stopping the Model X from accelerating into a fixed object. The crash attenuator which the vehicle slammed into had previously been damaged. Critics of Autopilot claim the software gives drivers a false sense of security, leading them to believe they are not required to pay attention to the road and take control of the car when necessary.
Huang’s Widow Seeks Wrong Death Reparation
An attorney for Huang’s widow said Walter Huang purchased the Tesla as a birthday gift for himself, but soon after the purchase, he complained to family members about flaws associated with Autopilot. The attorneys further stated that Huang even brought the car to a dealer, who was unable to replicate the issues, telling Huang to “keep driving.” Tesla was unable to find that any record of that service. Huang’s widow is seeking medical and hospital expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost future wages, and other compensation as allowed under California wrongful death laws.
Getting the Help You Need Following a Car Accident
Although the latest technology is pointing our society toward driverless cars, the technology is not to the point where it could be considered safe. Those who have been involved in an accident involving Autopilot software—or any car accident at all—nearly always need assistance. Your client’s ability to get treatment for their injuries and assistance with their crash-related expenses can, unfortunately, be limited, however help can come from USClaims.
At USClaims, we offer pre-settlement funding, if a case is qualified for pre-settlement funding then we would purchase a portion of the proceeds of the anticipated court judgment or settlement for some cash now. USClaims only gets paid if a case is won or has reached a settlement! Apply now or call us today at 1-877-USCLAIMS to learn more.