Tesla and its enigmatic CEO, Elon Musk, have taken the electric vehicle market by storm and captured the fascination of the American public. One driver even stated:
“The car feels like the future, I can never go back.”
In February 2019, however, the company had its worst month on record. For every 100 cars Tesla sold, 101 defects were reported. While many of these issues were cosmetic, such as chipped paint or cracks in the windshield, a few of them were more serious.
Some consumers reported problems with their steering wheels, turn signal, back-up cameras, and control screens. Another reported a “faulty computer.” In some vehicles, a faulty computer might not be as severe, but Tesla’s are known for their controversial “Autopilot” feature, which some safety experts have highlighted as defective.
Tesla Autopilot is an advanced driver-assistance feature that includes automatic braking, lane-centering technology, adaptive cruise control, and even fully autonomous driving on certain freeways.
Although Tesla claims the system “significantly reduced the likelihood of crashes,” several fatal accidents have been associated with Autopilot. Additionally, Consumer Reports found that vehicles using Autopilot “operated erratically and sometimes cut off other cars.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have been investigating Tesla Autopilot for some time now. A simple search of “Tesla Autopilot crash” will yield pages of results and cases where Autopilot either caused or contributed to serious car accidents. In two similar crashes in Florida, for instance, Autopilot failed to detect tractor-trailers and sent Tesla’s directly underneath the trucks, allegedly killing both drivers. The Associated Press (AP) recently linked three additional deaths to Tesla’s Autopilot system. According to the publication, at least 13 accidents are currently under investigation by the NHTSA.
David Friedman, a former NHTSA administrator and current vice president of advocacy for Consumer Reports, told AP:
“It’s foreseeable some drivers will not pay attention to the road while using Autopilot, so the system is defective.”
Electrical Fires and Other Issues
Autopilot is not the only issue Tesla has faced in the past few years. The company and its high-tech cars have also been linked to spontaneous combustion. One driver had their Tesla Model-S catch fire while it was sitting in a parking garage in Shanghai, and another man was driving down Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles when a couple flagged him and told him his Tesla was on fire.
Even when these electrical fires are incited by a crash, they are extremely difficult to put out and the vehicles tend to ignite multiple times and even cause fiery explosions on busy highways. Worse still, one man was burned alive after a minor crash because his Tesla’s futuristic door handles malfunctioned, making him inaccessible to first responders and trapping him inside the burning vehicle. His family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
A Wave of Lawsuits
The case above is not the only lawsuit Tesla is facing. Families of two drivers who were allegedly killed while using Autopilot have sued Tesla for wrongful death and many more cases are expected to emerge.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by one of Tesla or other automobile defect, we encourage you to come forward. Our firm, Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin, can help you file a wrongful death claim or personal injury lawsuit against the company. With over 200+ years of collective legal experience and a trackrecord of success, we are confident in our ability to advocate on your behalf and maximize your chances of compensation.