A future with “self-driving” cars may seem exciting to some people. Tesla and other automakers have made some important advancements in that direction. However, the time when a driver can sit back and ignore the road while their vehicle does all the work isn’t upon us yet.
In recent years, two people have lost their lives while driving a Tesla set on Autopilot — it’s driver-assistance system. In 2016, a California man died after his car collided with a tractor-trailer. His family is suing the automaker.
This March, a husband and father of three was killed here in Florida when his Tesla Model 3 sedan failed to avoid a semitrailer after the car ran a stop sign. According to the lawsuit, the driver had turned on the Autopilot system approximately 10 seconds before the crash occurred. However, according to a preliminary crash report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the vehicle made no moves to avoid the truck.
The man’s family is also suing Tesla, as well as the truck driver, in Palm Beach County. They claim that Tesla knew of problems with their Autopilot system. The family’s attorney pointed out the similarities to the California crash, saying, “These products are defective.”
It remains to be seen whether the plaintiffs in these cases are able to successfully hold Tesla liable for the crashes. On its website, the company states, “Autopilot is intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time. While Autopilot is designed to become more capable over time, in its current form, it is not a self-driving system.”
Another legal issue that will likely need to be addressed more frequently is whom other victims of crashes involving vehicles with driver-assistance systems can hold liable. If you’re injured in a crash involving one of these cars, can you sue the driver and the carmaker? It’s best to start by seeking the help of an experienced attorney.