Tesla Car Accident Lawyers | Autopilot Crashes & Fatalities Surge [2023]

Tesla’s Autopilot mode is intended to make driving safer and easier, but for hundreds of people, it has been a source of hardship and tragedy. The Washington Post recently analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that there have been 736 crashes since 2019 involving Teslas in Autopilot mode. At least 17 people died in those crashes.

The number of crashes has surged over the past four years, reflecting the increasing popularity of Tesla Autopilot and the hazards associated with autonomous driving technology. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk continues to push Autopilot’s capabilities, the company and its entities have failed to adequately address the safety concerns raised by these crashes, including technological issues and user error.

If you have been injured or a loved one killed in a crash involving a self-driving Tesla, you may be entitled to substantial monetary compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The Tesla car accident lawyers at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group will fight to hold every responsible party accountable for your damages and losses.

In this article, our Tesla car accident lawyer explains the risks associated with Tesla self-driving vehicles, who bears liability for catastrophic crashes, and how our law firm can help – all without any financial strain on you.
levels of autonomous vehicles

Understanding Tesla and its Autopilot System

Tesla Inc

Tesla Inc. is an American electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Palo Alto, California. Founded in 2003, Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. The company is best known for its electric cars, but it also produces scalable clean energy generation and storage products. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, is a pivotal figure in pushing forward the advancement of electric vehicles.

Tesla’s Autopilot System

Tesla’s Autopilot is a suite of advanced driver-assistance features offered by the company, designed with the aim of enhancing safety and convenience behind the wheel. Using a combination of sensors, cameras, and radar, coupled with artificial intelligence, Tesla’s vehicles are supposed to be able to interpret their environment and navigate the roadways.

Despite its name, Tesla’s Autopilot is not a fully autonomous driving system. Instead, it is classified as a Level 2 autonomous system, meaning it can steer, accelerate, and brake under certain conditions, but it requires the driver’s full attention at all times.

The features of Tesla’s Autopilot system include:

  • Traffic-Aware Cruise Control: This feature allows the Tesla vehicle to maintain the driver’s chosen speed, slowing down or speeding up in response to the traffic ahead.
  • Autosteer: This feature assists in steering within a clearly marked lane, and uses traffic-aware cruise control.

Additional optional features, known as “Full Self-Driving Capability,” can be purchased, which include capabilities such as:

  • Navigate on Autopilot: This feature enables automatic driving from highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including interchanges and overtaking slower cars.
  • Auto Lane Change: While using Autosteer or Navigate on Autopilot, the vehicle can automatically change lanes.
  • Autopark: This helps automatically park the vehicle in parallel and perpendicular parking spaces.
  • Summon: Your parked car will come to find you in a parking lot.

By automating certain driving tasks, such as steering, accelerating, and braking, Tesla aims to reduce human error, which is a significant contributor to motor vehicle accidents. Theoretically, this should lead to a safer driving environment.

However, the system is not fool-proof and Tesla drivers often over-rely on the Autopilot system or misuse it, which has led to catastrophic crashes. Fortunately, there are Tesla car accident attorneys who specialized in these cases and can help you get justice and compensation if you have been injured or a loved one killed in a crash with a self-driving vehicle. Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group can help.

Causes of Self-Driving Car Accidents

Despite the advanced technology that self-driving cars, such as those equipped with Tesla’s Autopilot system, bring to the roads, accidents still occur. Understanding the reasons behind these accidents is crucial. Here are some common causes of self-driving car accidents:

Technological Malfunctions

Despite being equipped with complex sensors and algorithms, these cars are not impervious to malfunctions. Software glitches or hardware failures can cause self-driving cars to behave unpredictably or even fail to respond to certain situations, leading to accidents.

Inadequate Maintenance

Just like traditional vehicles, self-driving cars require regular maintenance and software updates. If these maintenance needs are neglected, the autonomous features may not perform optimally, increasing the risk of an accident.

Inclement Weather

Current self-driving technology may struggle to interpret the environment correctly in inclement weather conditions like heavy rain, snow, or fog. For example, sensors and cameras may be unable to ‘see’ properly, which could potentially lead to accidents.

Limitations in Recognizing Pedestrians or Cyclists

While advancements are being made, self-driving technology still struggles at times with detecting and correctly interpreting pedestrians, cyclists, or other non-vehicular road users, particularly in complex urban environments.

Other Road Users’ Errors

Even with advanced technology, self-driving cars share the road with human drivers, and accidents can occur due to the errors or unpredictable behaviors of these human drivers.

Overreliance on Autopilot Features

Despite clear guidelines from manufacturers like Tesla that drivers need to remain alert and engaged even when using self-driving features, some drivers over-rely on these systems. This overconfidence can lead to inattention or slower response times, which can contribute to accidents.

Unpredictable Road Conditions

Self-driving technology can sometimes struggle with unexpected or complex road conditions. For example, if road work or traffic accidents are not appropriately signaled, a self-driving car may not interpret the situation correctly.

While these are some common causes, it’s important to note that each accident involving a self-driving car is unique and may involve a combination of several factors.

Tesla Recalls

Here’s a startling fact that should get your attention: Tesla is the most-recalled vehicle brand of all cars, trucks and SUVs. In 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued 400 recalls, impacting more than 25 million vehicles. Of those vehicles, Tesla was in four of the five top spots on the list, according to Autoweek.

If you have been injured or a loved one killed in a crash with a Tesla, it’s imperative that you reach out to an experienced Telsa car accident lawyer to determine if the automaker bears liability for your hardship or the death of a loved one. Our legal team would be happy to provide a free case evaluation.

Common Injuries in Self-Driving Crashes

As with any car crash, the injuries suffered in a Tesla self-driving car accident can vary widely, but some injuries are more common than others. These include traumatic brain injuries, whiplash, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and internal injuries. The severity of these injuries can range from minor to severe, with potential life-altering consequences.

If you are a loved one has been injured in a self-driving car crash, it’s important to contact an experienced Tesla car accident lawyer as soon as possible. In fact, it’s best to contact an attorney before you speak with an insurance company so that you don’t inadvertently jeopardize your claim

Potential Tesla Crash Victims

Several parties can be potential victim in a Tesla car crash. These individuals may be directly or indirectly involved with the accident and may suffer physical harm, emotional trauma, property damage, or a combination thereof. Here are the potential victims in a Tesla crash:

Drivers

The driver of a Tesla vehicle involved in a crash can be a victim, particularly in cases where the Autopilot or Full Self-Driving systems fail to operate as expected, leading to an accident. Injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to severe, life-threatening conditions.

Passengers

Passengers in the Tesla vehicle at the time of the accident can suffer injuries similar to those of the driver. Depending on the severity of the crash, these injuries can vary widely in their extent and nature.

Occupants of Other Vehicles

If a Tesla vehicle collides with another vehicle, the occupants of the other vehicle can become victims. They may suffer injuries and property damage due to the collision.

Pedestrians and Cyclists

Pedestrians and cyclists are especially vulnerable in traffic accidents. If a Tesla vehicle fails to recognize or appropriately respond to pedestrians or cyclists, they can become victims of an accident.

In all these instances, the victims of a Tesla crash have the right to seek compensation for their injuries, damages, and losses. Consulting with a skilled Tesla car accident lawyer like those at Varghese Summersett can help victims understand their rights and the best course of action.

Determining Liability in a Tesla Self-Driving Car Crash

In the aftermath of a Tesla car crash, establishing liability can be complex due to the involvement of autonomous technology. Several parties may potentially be held responsible depending on the specific circumstances of the accident. Here’s a closer look at some entities that could be held liable:

The Driver

If the driver of the Tesla was misusing the Autopilot system or was otherwise negligent (such as by speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence), they could be held responsible for the accident.

Tesla Inc.

If a defect in the Tesla vehicle or its Autopilot system contributed to the crash, Tesla, Inc., the manufacturer, could potentially be held liable. This might be the case if it is proven that there was a flaw in the vehicle’s design, manufacturing process, or software programming.

Other Motorists

If another driver’s negligence or recklessness caused or contributed to the accident, they could be held liable. This could include behaviors like failing to yield, running a red light, or driving recklessly.

Government Entities

In some cases, government entities responsible for road maintenance may be held liable if dangerous or poorly maintained roads contributed to the accident. This could include situations such as unmarked roadwork, lack of appropriate signage, or severe potholes.

Third-Party Service Providers

If third-party services or products were involved in the maintenance or modification of the vehicle’s software or hardware and contributed to the accident, they could potentially be held responsible.

Given the multiple potential sources of liability in a Tesla car crash, it’s important for victims to consult with knowledgeable Tesla car accident lawyers like those at Varghese Summersett. We will thoroughly investigate the accident to identify all potentially liable parties and work tirelessly to hold everyone accountable for your injuries and losses.

Compensation for Tesla Car Accident Victims

In Texas, compensation for Tesla car accident victims fall into three categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Here’s a look at each below:

  • Economic damages: These are easily quantifiable and include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.

  • Non-economic damages: These compensate for subjective, non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.

  • Punitive damages: These are awarded in cases of gross negligence or intentional misconduct to punish the responsible party and deter similar behavior in the future.

How a Tesla Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you’ve been injured in a self-driving vehicle accident,  a skilled Tesla car accident lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in many ways. From investigating the incident to advocating on your behalf, here’s how they can help:

Thorough Investigation

A Tesla car accident lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, including reviewing police reports, speaking with witnesses, and examining physical evidence. They can also work with experts to analyze data from the Tesla vehicle’s electronic data recorder or Autopilot system, which can be crucial in proving liability.

Determining Liability

As discussed earlier, liability in a Tesla car accident can involve multiple parties from the driver to the manufacturer, Tesla Inc. Your lawyer can help identify all potential liable parties and build a strong case against them.

Calculating Damages

Injuries from a car accident can lead to substantial financial burdens, including medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. You may also be entitled to non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. An experienced lawyer can help accurately calculate these damages to ensure you seek the full compensation you deserve.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies often seek to minimize the payouts they make. A skilled Tesla car accident lawyer can negotiate with these companies on your behalf, helping to ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

Representing You in Court

If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer can represent you in court, presenting a compelling case to a judge or jury to help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Navigating Complex Laws and Regulations

Laws and regulations pertaining to autonomous vehicles can be complex and nuanced. An attorney experienced in this area can help navigate these complexities and ensure all legal aspects of your case are handled appropriately.

At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, we understand the complexities involved in Tesla car accidents and have the expertise to guide you through the legal process. Don’t wait; reach out to us today at (817) 207-4878 or contact us online. Time may be of the essence in preserving crucial evidence and protecting your rights.

Injured in a Tesla Car Accident? Contact Us.

If you’ve been involved in a Tesla self-driving car accident in Fort Worth or the surrounding area, it’s crucial to consult with a Tesla car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The unique complexities of autonomous vehicle accidents require specialized knowledge and experience. Early legal advice can also ensure critical evidence is preserved, and your rights are protected from the outset.

At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group we offer free, no-obligation consultations to evaluate your case and see if it’s a right fit for our firm and for you. If it is, we will represent you on contingency, meaning you will never pay anything upfront or out-of-pocket. We only get paid after we recover compensation for you.

Call us today at 817-207-4878 (HURT) to speak with an experienced Tesla car accident lawyer.

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FAQs about Personal Injury Cases in Texas and Self-Driving Cars

In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident. That means if you don’t file a personal injury claim within two years of the self-driving car accident, you could lose your right to compensation.

Yes, Texas has enacted legislation that allows for the operation and testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Yes, Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means you can seek compensation even if you were partially at fault, as long as you were not more than 50 percent responsible.

At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, we offer a free initial consultation for Tesla car accident cases.

After a Tesla self-driving car accident, it’s important to report the accident, seek medical attention, collect evidence (photos, names of witnesses, etc.) and contact a  personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Experienced car accident lawyer Ty Stimpson explains what you should NOT do in this short video.

Yes, if the accident was due to a defect in the vehicle’s design or system, you could potentially sue Tesla for damages. The experienced Tesla accident lawyers at our firm can explain product liability in Texas and how this could apply in your case.

At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, we don’t get paid unless we win your case. If we’re successful in recovering compensation for you through a settlement or a court verdict, our fees are then taken as a percentage of that compensation. If for some reason we’re unable to secure compensation, you won’t owe us any legal fees.

This arrangement aligns our interests with yours – we are motivated to secure the highest possible compensation, and you can get top-tier legal representation without the need for immediate payment or the risk of paying for unsuccessful legal help.

So, if you’ve been involved in a Tesla car accident and are worried about affording legal help, call Varghese Summersett today at (817) 207-4878. Let us fight for the compensation you deserve while you focus on your recovery.

 

 

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About the Author

Benson Varghese is the managing partner of Varghese Summersett. He is a seasoned trial attorney, highly esteemed for his comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the field. He has been to trial throughout state and federal courts in Texas. 

As a former insurance adjuster himself, Benson has insights into how insurance companies evaluate claims – and why without the proper encouragement, they are likely to undervalue a claim. Benson uses these insights combined with his clout in the courtroom to obtain justice for his clients – in and outside of the courtroom.

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