In a recent legal case, Tesla was absolved of responsibility for a tragic accident involving a Model 3 operating in Autopilot mode, resulting in a fatal crash. The incident, which took place in California in 2019, caused the death of the driver, Micah Lee, as the vehicle veered off the road, striking a palm tree and catching fire. Lee’s family, also passengers in the car, accused Tesla of knowingly selling a defective Autopilot system.
The jury, in a 9-to-3 decision, ruled in favor of Tesla, maintaining that the crash was due to human error, as argued by the company’s legal representatives.
This verdict represents the second success for Tesla in cases related to vehicle crashes while using advanced driver-assist systems like Autopilot. A similar case earlier in the year, involving plaintiff Justine Hsu, ended with the jury’s decision against the individual’s claims after their vehicle collided with a median while under Autopilot control.
The lawsuit brought by Lee’s family marked the first instance involving a fatal crash associated with Autopilot. The ruling comes at a time when Tesla is facing increased scrutiny from federal and state regulators regarding its semi-autonomous technology.
Tesla has been facing legal and regulatory challenges, with ongoing investigations by the US Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding Autopilot following a series of incidents involving collisions with parked emergency vehicles. Moreover, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of misleading claims about its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) capabilities.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, dismissed the assumption that the company carries legal liability for its self-driving vehicles, humorously addressing the issue amid the lawsuits faced by the company.