Tesla has faced a wrongful death lawsuit before after one of its vehicles was involved in a fatal crash while on Autopilot. On Aug. 1, another lawsuit was announced. This should be of interest to drivers in Ohio because it shows that self-driving technology is still a long way from being perfected.
The decedent was a man driving southbound toward Delray Beach, Florida, in a 2018 Tesla Model 3 who collided with a semi going east. This occurred on March 1, 2019. In its preliminary report, the National Transportation Safety Board said that the driver had engaged the Autopilot feature 10 seconds before the crash. Less than eight seconds prior to it, the driver's hands were off the steering wheel.
There was no evidence that either the driver or the car was about to initiate an evasive maneuver at the time of the crash. The report also states that the driver was going 68 mph: 13 miles over the posted speed limit. The crash investigation has not been completed yet, and a Tesla spokesperson has declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A similar crash, also fatal, occurred in May 2016 with a Tesla Model S on Autopilot. In that crash, the NTSB did not hold Tesla to be responsible.
Proving that an automaker is to blame for a driver's death requires specific knowledge that the family of the decedent will likely not have. This is one reason why those who intend to pursue a wrongful death case may want to hire an attorney. Personal injury attorneys may have a network of investigators and other third parties to help strengthen a case and determine a fair amount for damages. These damages might include funeral and burial expenses, loss of support and more.