While Tesla claims to engineer the safest cars in the world, the true safety of a Tesla is highly contested. While the Model S has received a 5-star safety rating, it has also been associated with some dangerous electrical fires. This is an important concern for electric vehicles in general, not because electric cars are more likely to catch on fire, but because electrical fires are more difficult to put out. Still, anxieties about Tesla’s safety are numerous.
Autopilot or Operator Error
Tesla safety concerns are often centered around the vehicles’ Autopilot feature. In August 2014, a Tesla employee was struck by a Model S while on the job. Tesla took some responsibility for this case, which happened at work and ultimately reached a $13 million settlement, but the company emphasized that operator error was the primary cause of the accident and the driver, Joseph Aguilar, was held primarily responsible.
A trickier case is that of Walter Huang, who was killed on March 23, 2018 after crashing into a barrier in Mountain View, CA. Huang was using Autopilot at the time, but may have been overly reliant on the system, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk asserts is not yet fully autonomous. Autopilot is designed to help drivers evade collisions, but encourages them to keep their hands on the wheel and their focus on the road at all times. Still, cases where neither driver nor Autopilot take evasive action create a bit of a grey area and incidents where vehicle systems may have caused an accident are supremely unsettling.
Inaccurate Safety Claims
A huge part of Tesla’s questionable liability comes from its marketing. By touting its cars as the safest on the road, Tesla may be misleading its buyers. If you expect a car to help keep you safe or avoid accidents, you may be less careful on the road or overly reliant on a product or its safety systems. While liability is questionable, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has subpoenaed Musk for information on several crashes and sent Tesla a cease-and-desist letter regarding its safety claims.
If you think you or someone you know has been misled, endangered, hurt, or killed by a vehicle or other product that should be held liable, schedule a free consultation today. Our attorneys at Whiteman, Hamilton & Conklin, LLC have more than 80 years of combined legal experience and would love to take your call at (404) 800-4661. Let us fight for you!