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Is Tesla Liable For The Autopilot Fatality?

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2016 | Car Wreck Injury |

A Tesla vehicle in semi-autonomous mode has crashed, and the car’s driver has died. This wreck has stirred questions of safety and responsibility, but nobody in the automotive industry has answers. Who is responsible for these types of crashes? Is there any way to prevent future driverless vehicle wrecks? Will the Tesla crash halt the development of autonomous vehicles? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is trying to find out.


Is Tesla Liable For The Autopilot Fatality?

Reports are surfacing about the Tesla autopilot crash that claimed the life of a 40-year-old former Navy Seal from Ohio. Sources claim that police found a portable DVD player in the car with the former Seal, and the truck driver involved in the crash claims he heard a Harry Potter movie playing when he went to check on the crashed Tesla. This has led some people to claim that the driver was disobeying Tesla’s autopilot safety warnings. However, no evidence has been revealed that proves this claim, and some experts don’t think it would matter.

Tesla vehicles require drivers to agree to an extensive disclaimer and safety rules every time semi-autonomous mode is activated. But legal experts don’t think that’s enough to excuse the company from liability. Right now, NHTSA is investigating to see if Tesla’s autopilot mode has some sort of defect. If safety monitors find faults in the software, or the way it works, then Tesla might be liable for the crash.

How Is The Autopilot Fatality Affecting The Auto Industry?

Other automakers are watching the investigation very carefully. GM has plans to roll out a similar autonomous mode on their Cadillac CT6 in 2017. However, the automaker has delayed those plans. It says the Tesla incident didn’t cause the delay, but the company is still watching the situation closely. GM also has no plans to conduct a public beta test, as Tesla has done with its semi-driverless feature. Manufacturers like Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo also have similar systems in the works.

The former Navy Seal’s family say they are waiting for investigation results before filing any lawsuits. However, legal experts don’t believe Tesla will be able to dodge a lawsuit in this case. Do you think the company is liable for this accident? Is the Tesla autopilot defective? Is the trucker involved in the accident also liable? This case has many more questions to be answered, and we will continue to follow them on our legal blog.