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Tesla crashes raise safety concerns

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2019 | Product Liability

Tesla cars are becoming increasingly popular in Oklahoma and across the United States. However, a series of deadly crashes involving the electric-powered vehicles has some people questioning the safety of the “Autopilot” system and engine battery.

On Feb. 24, a 2016 Tesla Model S was traveling between 75 and 90 mph on a Florida highway when it careened off the road, struck a median and hit some trees. The force of the collision killed the driver and caused the car’s powerful lithium-ion battery to burst into flames. When the car’s wreckage was transported to a local impound lot, the battery caught fire three more times over the course of several hours. Apparently, crashes can cause the batteries to overheat and ignite repeatedly. Tesla is aware of the issue and has posted an emergency response guide for rescuers on its website.

Overheating batteries aren’t the automaker’s only problem. Tesla cars also have an “Autopilot” mode that helps drivers steer, brake and avoid collisions. The mode isn’t intended to be a fully autonomous driving system, but some Tesla owners treat it as such and attempt to let the car drive itself. Unfortunately, this has led to several crashes, including a deadly crash in Fort Lauderdale and two fatal crashes in California. Some safety experts say that Tesla is irresponsible for calling the mode “Autopilot,” a name that potentially encourages drivers to misunderstand and misuse the technology.

Automakers have a legal responsibility to create safe products for consumers. When someone is injured by a defective car or auto part, he or she has the right to seek financial compensation in court. For example, by filing a product liability lawsuit against the automaker, an injured victim might receive a settlement that covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property loss and more.