A Palm Beach County wrongful death lawsuit is the second in three months against automaker Tesla Inc. involving its driver-assisted Autopilot feature – one that plaintiffs say give drivers a false sense of security and fail to live up to the express and implied promises made to consumers.
According to Insurance Journal, plaintiffs in Banner v. Tesla allege the 50-year-old driver of a Tesla sedan was killed in March when the vehicle, using the Autopilot feature as advertised, failed to steer or brake in order to avoid striking a semi-tractor trailer that had run a stop sign on a South Florida highway.
The system had been engaged for at least 10 seconds prior to the crash. His survivors say the vehicle manufacturer is and has been aware that the system was defective, yet continued to sell it anyway. They are also suing the driver of that semi-truck for negligence in causing the truck accident.
South Florida truck injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC know that a fair number of crash-related claims may additionally involve some type of product liability claim. Our entire transportation system is heavily reliant on machines operated by humans. And while no one expects either to be infallible, lives depend on machines working reliably as advertised.
An early report from the National Transportation Safety Board indicated the Autopilot did register as active at the time of the collision and that neither the driver nor the system took any evasive action to avoid a crash. Decedent’s wife and three children survive him.
Injury lawyers representing the family say the consequences of this defective product’s continued sales are far-reaching, impacting the safety not only of the consumers who buy these cars but anyone inside them and everyone who shares the road with them.
In this case, the man was traveling nearly 70 mph. In a report to safety investigators, the man reportedly removed his hands from the steering wheel seconds before impact, defying the manufacturer’s operational instructions, which require the motorist to maintain control of the vehicle despite the use of “Autopilot.” It should be noted that not only does the name of the system imply that it can operate a vehicle without driver assistance, the company calls the system fully self-driving. Plus, the CEO of the company regularly allows the vehicle to take over while talking during broadcast interviews. Still, the auto maker blames users who are both inexperienced and complacent for their own deaths.
The wrongful death lawsuit echoes another one filed months ago against the same company in which a 38-year-old motorist in California was killed in a crash when he struck an off-ramp divider. The self-driving feature of the vehicle was engaged. The vehicle didn’t stop until it was nearly 1,600 feet away from the site of impact.
The most recent crash also closely resembles another fatal Florida truck accident wherein a “self-driving” car (manufactured by a different firm) slammed into a tractor-trailer that crossed in front of the driver on the highway. The system reportedly failed to register the white side of the large truck against a glaring sky. Federal investigators opined the driver was distracted at the time of collision.
Still, the similarities between the two Florida truck accidents indicates that perhaps Tesla knew or should have known this could potentially be an issue and failed to address it.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Family of Florida Man Killed in Autopilot Crash Sues Tesla, Aug. 2, 2019, By Dana Hull, InsuranceJournal.com