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Jury Finds Tesla 1% Negligent in Model S Crash, Awards Over $10 Million in Damages


A Florida jury found electric car manufacturer Tesla 1% negligent in the death of an 18-year-old man whose Model S sedan crashed into a concrete wall after the car’s speed limiter had been deactivated. According to Reuters, the jury found the teen and his father to be 99% at fault.

Details of the Deadly Tesla Case

The verdict from a Fort Lauderdale jury came in what lawyers for James and Jenny Riley, whose son Barrett died in the crash, referred to as “the first trial against Tesla over an accident involving one of its vehicles.”

Officials said Barrett Riley had been driving the Tesla at 116 mph on a curve with a posted 25 mph speed limit on May 8, 2018, when he lost control of the vehicle while trying to pass another car, causing a fire.

Another passenger also died, while a third occupant survived. Riley’s parents said the crash occurred after a Tesla technician, without their knowledge, disabled a device installed at their request and capped the Model S’s speed at 85 mph.

The jury found Tesla 1% negligent, Barrett Riley 90% negligent, and James Riley 9% negligent. The jury said James and Jenny Riley suffered a respective $4.5 million and $6 million of damages for pain and suffering, which the judge could reduce based on the negligence findings.

The jury found Tesla negligent

This case is remarkable because the jury found Tesla at fault and awarded the victim’s family over $10 million despite the facts of the case: The driver was traveling at 116 mph in a 25-mph zone. Unfortunately, Tesla blamed the driver in this case despite their negligence.

Tesla argued that Barrett Riley’s recklessness caused the crash and that his parents should have taken away his keys after his March 2018 speeding ticket for driving at 112 mph.

Tesla also said Barrett Riley tricked the Tesla technician into disabling the speed limiter. This case also reminds us that plaintiffs may be awarded compensation even if the victims are found partially negligent for the incident. It is deeply disturbing that Tesla has been getting away with negligence and vehicle defect defects by blaming drivers’ actions.

Suppose you or a loved one has been injured as a result of defective automobiles or as a result of automakers’ negligence. In that case, an experienced auto defect lawyer can provide you with more information about pursuing your legal rights.

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California Personal Injury Blog