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Tesla Targeted in Autonomous Vehicle Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Autopilot

The family the driver of a Tesla Model X is suing the company after their loved one died in a crash that occurred while the autopilot was engaged. The family is claiming that the autopilot was defective and resulted in the crash that took the life 38-year-old Walter Huang.

On March 23, 2018, Walter Huang’s Model X slammed into the concrete barrier on U.S. 101. According to the suit, the onboard sensors misread the lane lines and failed to detect the median that separated the different directions of traffic. The Model X failed to brake and instead accelerated into the barrier.

According to the attorneys representing the Huangs, Tesla is “beta testing its autopilot on live drivers” and, at least in this situation, it resulted in a tragic and preventable death. Tesla is being accused under product liability laws, negligent design, failure to warn, and negligent misrepresentation.

In addition, the State of California has been named in the lawsuit after they failed to replace a guardrail that may have prevented the Model X from slamming into the concrete barrier.

Full Self-Driving Teslas are Ready for the Road 

The lawsuit comes shortly after Elon Musk announced that Tesla’s autonomous vehicles may be ready for the road as soon as next year. Tesla has produced all of its Model Xs with the caveat that drivers should be ready to retake control of the vehicle if the onboard autopilot fails. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Drivers who operate with the autopilot on are not readily engaged with the act of driving and their response time will likely be delayed if they’re in the process of correcting something that the autopilot is doing. That begs the question: Should an autopilot that requires human intervention be allowed on the road at all?

One of the main points of the lawsuit against Tesla is that they “beta tested” their AI on human drivers and that resulted in tragic and preventable accidents. As part of that allegation, attorneys for the Huang family are claiming that Tesla misrepresented the abilities of their autopilot and allowed a dangerous and defective product to enter the stream of commerce. In so doing, they cost a man his life.

Car Data Encrypted 

Complicating the issue, the family and its attorneys have access to the car itself, but the data in the car is considered proprietary and is therefore encrypted. Part of the discovery process will involve turning over that data to the family, but the question of fair play is obvious. Since its Tesla’s data and Tesla is the only agency right now that can decrypt and interpret it, the question of what can be held back in that process remains an issue. However, the autopilot was being used at the time of the crash.

Talk to a Jacksonville Wrongful Death and Traffic Accident Attorney 

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a traffic accident, the dedicated Jacksonville personal injury attorneys at Gillette Law can help you recover damages related to your injuries. Talk to us today for a free consultation.

Resources:

ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/nr20180607.aspx

forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2019/05/01/tesla-sued-by-family-of-silicon-valley-driver-killed-in-model-x-autopilot-crash/#4200d5ff1c3f

https://www.gillettelaw.com/family-targets-scooter-manufacturer-after-death-of-woman/

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