Tesla Reaches Settlement After Fatal Collision Involving Autopilot

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Tech Giant Tesla Settled Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Apple Engineer Died In Autopilot Collision

car crash lawyerSAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA (April 9, 2024) – Tesla has settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a Silicon Valley engineer who died in a collision while his vehicle was in Autopilot.

The crash took place in March 2018 on a California highway. An Apple engineer was traveling down the road with Autopilot turned on in his Tesla Model X.

Autopilot is supposed to stop for vehicles or other potential hazards. But that did not happen in this case. The Model X collided with a concrete median barrier.

Tesla argued that the driver was being inattentive prior to the collision. A trial was set to begin on Monday. But both parties agreed to settle prior to the start of the trial. There have been a number of instances where a Tesla vehicle in Autopilot was involved in a collision. 

  • A Tesla vehicle in Autopilot lost control and crashed into a Georgia bus shelter, which killed a man inside. 
  • A Tesla vehicle in Autopilot lost control on a Georgia highway and hit a median barrier in 2021. 
  • A Tesla in Autopilot was involved in a collision with another vehicle before catching fire on a Georgia highway. 

The amount of the settlement remains confidential. Tesla is still facing several other lawsuits after drivers were injured or killed in collisions involving its Autopilot software.

Tesla has also released a beta version of its full self-driving software.

Liability For Accidents Involving The Tesla Autopilot System

Since Tesla released the Roadster in 2008, every subsequent vehicle released by the company has come with a version of Autopilot. This software is supposed to make the car safer and long trips easier for the driver. But it does have a number of limitations. It cannot recognize stop signs or traffic lights. It also has trouble adjusting to slick roadways. There have been a number of situations where Tesla vehicles have behaved in an unsafe manner.

  • Tesla vehicles in Autopilot have occasionally pulled the vehicle into the wrong lane of traffic.
  • Tesla vehicles on Autopilot have collided with parked emergency vehicles.
  • Tesla vehicles in Autopilot have allowed the system to keep operating even when the driver was asleep.

Tesla could face civil liability for any accident if one of their vehicles was engaged in Autopilot. All car manufacturers have to abide by safety regulations. This includes making sure any software that a vehicle relies on is safe and not likely to malfunction. Vehicle manufacturers must take into consideration the possibility that software or other features may be misused if the right safety precautions are not taken. If a car manufacturer fails to warn consumers about the dangers associated with their vehicles, this could form the basis of a product liability claim. Many attorneys have argued that Tesla failed to take reasonable steps to remedy defects with their software.

Consider, for example, one lawsuit working its way through the courts in Texas. According to trial lawyers in that case, “Tesla’s blatant refusal to adopt additional safeguards or to fix the issues with its Autopilot system demonstrate a lack of supervision and oversight of  Tesla’s Autopilot system. Tesla has intentionally decided not to remedy these issues and must be held liable and accountable, especially when it has detailed knowledge of the risks and dangers associated with its Autopilot system.” In that case, multiple police officers were injured after a Tesla engaged in Autopilot crashed into emergency response vehicles. If you’ve been involved in a collision with a Tesla vehicle, several steps should be taken.

  • All photos related to the crash site should be preserved.
  • Surveillance footage from the Tesla involved should be collected. All Tesla vehicles capable of Autopilot are equipped with an array of cameras.
  • It should be determined if the Tesla was on autopilot.
  • An experienced Atlanta car accident attorney should be contacted.

Tesla has continued to claim that Autopilot is a safe and efficient way of traveling on highways. But there have been so many instances where people have continued to misuse the software in predictable ways. Even when the software is being used as intended, it has struggled or outright failed in a number of situations. It is important for accident victims to understand that they do have rights. Any person injured in a collision with a Tesla in Autopilot mode may have legal recourse through a civil claim.

Getting Legal Help After Accidents Involving The Tesla Autopilot System

We at Butler Kahn extend our best wishes to all the individuals and families impacted by crashes involving Autopilot. This settlement is an important first step in holding Tesla accountable. But much more needs to be done. Tesla needs to put in place additional safeguards to make sure that its technology is safer and less prone to misuse.

Have you or someone that you care about been injured in a car accident with a Tesla in Autopilot? Our team of car accident attorneys is here for you. We are committed to helping accident victims get the medical and financial support that they need in order to recover. Whether you just have legal questions or are thinking about hiring an attorney, we may be able to help. You can contact us anytime at 678-940-1444.

Picture of Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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