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Tesla Autopilot Death Raises Liability Issues

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors has engineered some of the most amazing vehicles on the road today. Putting aside the remarkable performance and lack of fuel costs, one of the innovative features devised by Tesla is its autopilot function.

Tesla Autopilot Capability and Potential Dangers

The autopilot function has only recently become available on Tesla vehicles. It utilizes radars and camera sensors to judge the distance between vehicles and vehicle speeds. Tesla’s autopilot feature also registers white lines on highways and keeps the vehicle between them to navigate curves.

While undoubtedly fascinating, this technology is not without its dangers, as illustrated by a recent fatality caused by a Tesla Model S using the autopilot feature. According to early reports, it appears that, on a bright sunny day, the vehicle failed to distinguish a large white 18-wheeler and attempted to switch lanes into it, shearing off the Model S’s roof when it crashed into the trailer.

Long before this accident occurred, however, the company had already expressly advised drivers to keep both hands on the wheel, as the self-driving feature was, and still is, very much in its infancy.

Liability Questions Raised by Self-Driving Vehicles

As vehicles with autopilot capabilities become more common on roadways, there will be several liability issues that will have to be resolved. Most notable of which is: who should be responsible in the event of an accident?

Generally speaking, the driver of a vehicle that collides with another vehicle will be held liable if his or her negligence caused the accident. But, if there was no “driver,” apportioning liability becomes difficult.

One obvious entity to hold responsible is the manufacturer of the vehicle. You could argue that the autopilot feature failed to work properly or posed an unreasonable danger. It could also be that the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of the dangers of the autopilot feature.

On the other hand, if a driver knows that the autopilot feature on his or her vehicle has been prone to error, it would be appropriate to put a portion of the blame on the driver. Similarly, if an owner allows somebody else to drive his or her vehicle, he may be liable if the autopilot feature leads to an accident.

It will take time to hash out all of these different liability questions, but given the perpetually evolving state of the tech industry, these issues may get litigated sooner rather than later.

Call a New Orleans Car Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured an auto accident, call The Mahone Firm today at (504) 564-7342 to discuss your potential case. There is no charge for an initial confidential consultation with an injury lawyer.

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