Tesla Autopilot Crash Lawyers
The Tesla Autopilot crash lawyers at Bisnar Chase represent the rights of those who have been seriously injured or killed as a result of defective vehicles that have autonomous technology in them. We believe that these cars with autonomous features should not be put out in the market before being properly tested. Our law firm is among the nation's leaders when it comes to investigating and proving auto defects. We have secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients who have been catastrophically injured by defective autos. Call us at (800) 561-4887 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation and case evaluation.
Understanding Tesla Vehicles
A Tesla, which is in Autopilot mode, can drive itself. But, it's not a self-driving vehicle, definitely, not in the eyes of safety regulators. What Tesla vehicles do in the Autopilot mode is they automatically adjust speed with the flow of traffic, keep their lane and slam the brakes in case of an emergency. Tesla tells customers to stay alert while driving and only use the technology on divided highways. They also tell consumers to keep their hands on the wheel and be prepared to take over at a moment's notice should the technology fail.
However, this message has not reached all Tesla drivers. There are online videos that show drivers riding in the back seat of Tesla vehicles. Some are shown in these videos reading a newspaper as the car "drives itself" – a truly dangerous practice against which there is not much warning because Tesla markets these vehicles playing up the autonomous driving technology.
Crashes Involving Autopilot
The first reported fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S electric sedan was reported May 7, 2016 in Williston, Florida. That crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla. The car, which was on Autopilot at the time, failed to automatically apply the brakes. Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, a former Navy SEAL was identified as the victim of that crash. Tesla said in a news release after that crash that the Autopilot system in that case did not notice the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky. Therefore, the company said, the car did not automatically apply the brakes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a probe into why the Autopilot failed in the Florida crashes.
There has also been record, so far, of two other crashes involving Tesla vehicles on Autopilot. NHTSA is investigating a crash in Pennsylvania where the driver and his passenger survived. In that case, while the driver said his Tesla Model X was on Autopilot when it veered out of control and crashed, Tesla said the vehicle was not on Autopilot at the time. Another driver in Montana also reported that his Tesla Model X suddenly and inexplicably veered off course and crashed when it was on Autopilot. Tesla has blamed the drivers in all three of the crashes. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has staunchly rejected all criticisms and concerns over the Autopilot function saying that Tesla cars are safer when Autopilot is turned on than when it's turned off.
Was Autopilot Properly Tested?
Tesla ensured there were no regulatory wrinkles before going to market with its Autopilot technology in October. Tesla approached the California Department of Motor Vehicles to check if officials would throw up any roadblocks. But the DMV had no authority over Tesla's Autopilot, which is not technically "autonomous" because of the need for human backup. Even if NHTSA officials had any safety concerns about Autopilot, they too had no basis for putting the brakes on the technology before it made its debut.
That's the way automobile regulation works in the U.S. Automakers are free to add what they call "an advanced driver-assistance system" such as Autopilot's lane keeping, as long as the technology meets broad federal safety requirements. Regulators get involved only if and when there are problems once the technology is on the road. That is exactly what is happening with Tesla vehicles.
After a man lost his life and two others were injured, now, NHTSA is looking into whether Tesla's Autopilot has a defect that failed to prevent that fatal crash. NHTSA's reactive approach is the opposite of how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) treats Autopilot that commercial airline pilots rely on for more flights.
While our regulators wouldn't dream of putting in new automated technology on an airplane without first testing it to the FAA's satisfaction, that has obviously not been the case with the auto industry. In the case of Autopilot, the cart has been put before the horse. We have more than 70,000 Tesla vehicles on the road with Autopilot before regulators have had a chance to look at how it works and more importantly, whether it is safe. Tesla reportedly tested Autopilot for about a year and unveiled it last fall with Musk cautioning drivers to keep their hands on the wheel "just in case." After the Florida crash, Musk is saying that they are now working "to improve Autopilot." Consumer Reports says that Tesla should disable the auto-pilot until software changes are made.
Protecting Your Rights
It is unacceptable for automakers to put their profits before the safety of consumers. It is not acceptable to test a product after it has been in the market for a year. Tesla vehicles are being used by tens of thousands of people. As the auto manufacturer, Tesla can and should be held accountable for the injuries, damages and losses caused by their products. They have a duty and a legal obligation to put products in the market that have been properly tested and are safe for consumers. A failure to do so makes them liable in cases where injuries or fatalities have been caused.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective Tesla Autopilot system, protect your rights by contact an experienced auto defect attorney who will stand up and fight for your rights. At Bisnar Chase, we dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to conduct independent investigations by utilizing the services of nationally renowned auto safety experts. We offer our clients a no-win, no-fee guarantee, which means you don't pay any fees until we secure compensation for you. Call our Tesla Autopilot crash lawyers at 1-800-561-4887 to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.