Tesla Driver Killed in a Crash while Using Auto Pilot Mode

Categories: Wrongful Death

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Washington Attorneys Serving Victims of Self-Driving Cars

Technology for automobiles is constantly evolving. This year’s latest trend is that of self-driving vehicles – something that Google has been testing for quite some time. While the technology has not yet been fully released, there are plenty of tests going on. Tesla is one of the few companies to have released a fully autopilot-capable vehicle for consumer use. In May of this year, self-driving vehicles claimed their first life. The 40-year-old owner of the vehicle who nicknamed his Tesla “Tessy” died while driving his vehicle on self-driving mode. The design and performance of the system equipped on the Tesla Model S sedan is now being investigated by the government.

Joshua D. Brown of Ohio died in the accident May 2016. His Tesla failed to distinguish the white sides of a tractor-trailer turning and failed to activate the brakes – according to records released from government investigators. Because of this failure, Brown was involved in a fatal accident with the semi-truck. The driver of the truck said that the Tesla’s operator was watching TV on a screen at the time of the accident, and the accident occurred so quickly that the driver never noticed what was happening. The vehicle was moving so quickly that it snapped a telephone pole a few feet from the accident site.

Tesla is claiming that there is no way to watch movies on their touch screen; therefore, they are denying the claims made by the truck’s driver. The driver, the owner of Nexu Innovations, Inc., was an enthusiastic owner of the new self-driving Teslas. The Autopilot system was supposed to be state-of-the-art, and so sophisticated that it could avoid a crash when vehicles swerved into the same lane – and supposedly featured lightning fast response speeds in crash prevention.

How the Accident Occurred

Preliminary reports released by the government investigative team states that the crash occurred when the semi-truck turned left in front of the Tesla at an intersection. There was no traffic light at this intersection. The Tesla driver died at the scene. The Tesla had the roof sheared off at the crash site from the impact with the semi-truck. There are over 130 million miles driven with the Autopilot feature of the Tesla models released to the public, and this was the first known death. However, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating to see if the Autopilot operated as it should have or if there was a fatal error due to programming.

Who is Responsible?

In this instance, it would be difficult to speculate who would be responsible for the accident. While the driver was not paying attention, he chose to do so because he was assured that the Tesla could drive itself without issue. Therefore, Tesla would be the manufacturer responsible for the death of the driver – regardless of whether he was watching a movie or not.

Did You Lose a Loved One in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

If you have lost a loved one in a fatal motor vehicle accident due to a product default or someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf. Contact the accident team at Brett McCandlis Brown, PLLC today. Schedule your free consultation with our caring attorneys at 800-925-1875, or fill out our online contact form with your questions.