Drivers in California should know that Tesla will be facing a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a man who was killed while operating one of its vehicles. The lawsuit was announced on August 1, 2019, and will be filed at the Palm Beach County court in Florida. The family is suing for $15,000 in compensatory damages.
On March 1, 2019, the man was driving a 2018 Tesla Model 3 south toward Delray Beach when it collided with an eastbound tractor-trailer truck. The car had its roof torn off, and the driver was killed. Crash investigations are still pending.
According to the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the driver of the Model 3 had engaged the Autopilot feature 10 seconds before the collision and the feature did not detect the driver's hands on the steering wheel from less than eight seconds before the collision. The car did nothing to evade the truck, but neither did the driver. The report mentions that he was traveling 13 miles over the speed limit.
This is the second wrongful death lawsuit that Tesla will face. Earlier in 2019, a family had sued Tesla when the driver of a Model X that was on Autopilot collided with a highway barrier in Mountain View, California.
Semi-autonomous vehicle technology is not perfect, but it can provide the basis for a case under wrongful death law. Those who intend to pursue such a case may want to see a lawyer because they will likely face opposition from the automaker. The lawyer may hire investigators to clear the decedent's name of any wrongdoing and show that the vehicle tech was defective in some way. Families may have their lawyer negotiate on their behalf for a settlement or take the case to court.