TMCnet Feature
September 15, 2021

Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, discusses Injuries and Accidents involving Tesla's Autopilot

Tesla's autopilot has been in the news a lot lately, but not for its safety features. Several lawsuits have been filed against Tesla, claiming that the company is neglecting to warn drivers of their risks when using the autopilot function. Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, of New York City, New York says, the plaintiffs allege that Tesla should provide warnings similar to those found on airplanes before takeoff, such as "It's your responsibility to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times while using this feature."

Furthermore, many people believe that Elon Musk's statements about how safe it is for drivers to leave their hands off the steering wheel are misleading and deceptive. One man even died after his Model X crashed into a highway barrier because he was reportedly watching a movie at the time of the collision. Tesla has produced this product under the assumption that drivers will pay attention to their surroundings, which they can't always do.

Today, autopilot functions are still in beta testing and not yet perfect. Until the company develops a more foolproof way for drivers to focus on driving while using autopilot mode, many will continue to push for stricter warnings about how dangerous it is to use the system without paying full attention. In addition, people have also been asking if Tesla will compensate them after being injured in an accident caused by its autopilot feature. One man who was traveling 70 mph when his Model X crashed into a highway barrier made a strong case against Tesla's reckless marketing practices, saying, "It's just very bizarre that this would happen."

How does Tesla's Autopilot Work?

Tesla's autopilot system is pretty unique in that it doesn't solely rely on radar and cameras to sense its surroundings. It also can map out the surrounding landscape and use this data in conjunction with the camera and radar technology to perform certain functions such as changing lanes, slowing down when approaching curves or turns, and so on.

Tesla's autopilot system is not a normal car feature. It is an add-on that has to be purchased and requires specific installation in the car, which makes it similar to software or an app. Tesla does offer this add-on for both its Model S and X vehicles costing $39,000 for either model. According to Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, this version of autopilot will allow the cars to drive themselves using four different sensors: ultrasonic sensors, optical cameras, radar, and GPS. A new update on April 11 stated that all new Teslas would come standard with Autopilot 2.0 hardware preinstalled inside the vehicle. The autopilot also requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.

Is Tesla Neglecting Its Responsibility?

Currently, Tesla has marketed autopilot as a feature that falls under the category of "helpful driver-assist technology," rather than a product that drivers can fully depend upon to do all of the work. At the same time, they take their eyes off of the road. The company even elevates its vehicles if drivers remove their hands from the steering wheel for more than a few moments. However, Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, feels that the company's statements about the feature, such as Elon Musk's claim that drivers can "start reading books" while using autopilot mode, suggest that Tesla wants drivers to rely fully on their autopilot system. This is where things are getting controversial.

Is Tesla responsible for injuries caused by its Autopilot function?

The answer to this question depends upon how much information Tesla provided before selling their cars with autopilot technology installed. Suppose it was deemed that Tesla did not warn about the risks of using its self-driving technology in a normal setting. In that case, feels Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, the company could be held accountable for damages resulting in accidents caused by their product being misused or misunderstood. This would be Tesla in a position similar to Toyota, which had to pay $1.6 billion in damages for concealing information about its cars' "sudden acceleration" problems.

What are some potential dangers associated with using Tesla's autopilot system?

Several risks could lead to accidents when using this technology, including the possibility of being lulled into a false sense of security by an over-simplified user interface or putting too much trust in a product that is still incomplete, not yet perfect.

Incidents involving Tesla's autopilot system

There have been several cases of injuries that have resulted from accidents caused by the Autopilot system, some more serious than others. In May of 2018, another accident occurred when a Tesla vehicle in autopilot mode crashed into a fire department truck in California. The most recent and widely publicized incident involving this technology involved two men who were both injured in an accident when their Tesla car crashed into the back of a stationary police car in Laguna Beach.

Another example of such an incident with a clear link to Tesla's autopilot is the infamous accident involving Joshua Brown, who died in May 2016 when his Model S hit a tractor-trailer. He was speeding at approximately 74 mph and failed to brake or swerve even after seeing the large white side of the truck perpendicular to his path and continued to drive under it (he most likely looked away from the road momentarily).

What makes Brown's case different from others is that he had previously released a video on YouTube (News - Alert) showing how effective Tesla's autopilot feature was at avoiding accidents, even though he didn't follow all of its limitations.

Final Thoughts

The ever-expanding world of technology is giving us more and more to worry about than ever before. The development of self-driving cars such as Tesla's autopilot may reduce the dangers we currently face when we get into our cars. Still, it also opens up the possibility for accidents caused by human error to happen even less frequently.

Until the time comes when every part of driving a car becomes automated, there will always be potential dangers involved in operating moving vehicles on public roads. One should always keep this in mind when getting behind the wheel and follow safety guidelines such as staying focused on driving.

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