Tesla has been at the forefront of automobile innovation. However, the company has also gotten in trouble for its autonomous-driving and driver-assist technology causing accidents and deaths over several years. Cars relying on autonomous systems – which are becoming more common on the road – could potentially be linked to more personal injuries and an increase in lawsuits.

If you have been injured due to an autonomous car or a Tesla being on Autopilot, then it’s time to seek out representation. The Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates provide vigorous representation to clients in personal injury matters and are a goal-oriented and values-driven firm. We develop creative strategies to win every case, every time and are confident we can help you with your personal injury case. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.

Helpful Key Takeaways:

  • Tesla’s self driving software technology has been involved in, or has been accused of having directly caused accidents.
  • Tesla markets their cars with optional upgraded software as “full self driving” even though it might be considered deceptive advertising since the cars do not actually have this capability.
  • If you’re involved in a car accident involving a Tesla utilizing “Autopilot” or “Full Self-Driving” make sure to take photos of both vehicles and their orientation to traffic, gather driver information, get a police report, seek medical attention and discuss your matter with an attorney.

Tesla and Its Crashing Problem

Tesla Model S in front of Tesla showroomAccording to the Los Angeles Times, at least 11 times over the past seven years, Tesla cars crashed into emergency vehicles that were parked on highways and roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration got involved to find out why Tesla cars built between 2014 and 2021, including models S, X, 3 and Y, failed to detect the emergency vehicles and ended up getting into accidents.

These crashes caused one death and 17 injuries, and three of them occurred in Southern California. One happened when a Tesla crashed into the back of a fire truck on the 405 in Culver City, while the others occurred in Laguna Beach when a Tesla crashed into a police cruiser, and in San Diego, when a Tesla hit an unoccupied California highway patrol car.

In order to understand what’s going on, in June of 2021, the NHTSA ordered vehicle manufacturers, including Tesla, to send data on crashes involving automated system vehicles to the agency.

Tesla’s Autopilot – the official brand name – has been marketed as a hands-free system, though the manual for the vehicle says that the driver must pay full attention when on the road. The system combines lane changing with automatic steering as well as cruise control. The NHTSA said in a statement that, “no commercially available motor vehicles today are capable of driving themselves … and all State laws hold human drivers responsible for operation of their vehicles.”

Many drivers have been caught misusing Autopilot. Some have driven drunk with the system on, while others rode in the back seat with Autopilot on while driving on a California highway. This behavior is extremely dangerous, as it can result in injury as well as death to the driver and others.

Tesla’s Autopilot car accidents are becoming more commonly reported as the company still owns roughly 65% of the electric car market. At the moment, Tesla is the whipping boy of the industry because of it’s dominance. However, as more manufacturers offering full autonomous driving become more common, consumers will likely see car accidents involving all full self-driving vehicles continue to rise in the coming years.

Recent News Involving Tesla Autopilot & Full Self-Driving

  • Update 1/20/22: The Hill reports that the first vehicular manslaughter charge has been filed in California against an Uber driver who was driving with the “Autopilot” mode activated on his Tesla Model S.
  • Update 5/19/22: LA Times reports that “Federal authorities are investigating whether a Tesla involved in a crash that left three people dead… in Newport Beach had its Autopilot system activated at the time of the wreck.”
  • Update 8/11/22: Consumer safety activist Ralph Nader states: “Tesla’s major deployment of so-called ‘Full Self-Driving’ technology is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions by a car company in decades,” and “Tesla never should have put this technology in its vehicles” as  reported by Road & Track.
  • Update 8/31/22: LA Times reports that California lawmakers recently passed a bill that might force Tesla to stop calling its software “Full Self Driving” since there are no cars capable of this yet, and this is confusing to consumers.
  • Update 1/11/23: The Intercept shares video of a Tesla Model S changing lanes and then abruptly braking, resulting in an eight-vehicle crash.
  • Update 2/15/23: Popular Science reports that Zoox, an autonomous car company owned by Amazon, will be shuttling Zoox employees on public roads in Foster City, CA at a top speed of 35mph.

Self-Driving Cars and the Dangers They Present

Self-driving cars are far from perfect, and they should be used with caution. Even though self-driving cars were developed with safety in mind, it turns out that so far, they have a higher rate of accidents than cars being driven by humans. There are 9.1 self-driving car accidents per million miles driven, compared to 4.1 crashes per million miles for human-driven vehicles.

Of course, self-driving cars can also cause deaths. In November of 2018, an Uber driver was watching an episode of “The Voice” while driving. She put her car into self-driving mode and wasn’t paying attention. It ended up striking and killing a pedestrian who was crossing the street. It only detected the pedestrian 5.6 seconds before hitting her. Before this death, Uber self-driving cars were involved in 37 crashes.

Autonomous vehicles can give drivers a false sense of security that they don’t have to pay attention while driving. They could have an increased reaction time when responding to decisions they need to make immediately to avoid a crash. Plus, self-driving cars may not be suited to drive themselves in dangerous weather conditions.

According to the NHTSA, there is self-driving cars in the U.S. that is technically fully “self-driving.” The agency states, “Every vehicle currently for sale in the United States requires the full attention of the driver at all times for safe operation.”

What to Do If You’re in an Autonomous Car Accident

If you get into a crash with a driver who was on Autopilot or using some other autonomous system, then there are critical steps you should take to ensure you have a good chance of getting the settlement you deserve.

First, take a picture of the other driver’s car, license plate, and insurance card. You’ll want to make sure that it was actually an autonomous car that they were driving or a Tesla on Autopilot. If the driver offers you cash on the spot as a settlement, do not take it. You might not be able to get a better settlement later on if you do this.

Then, take pictures of your visible injuries as well as damage to your car and your belongings, if there was any. Call the police to generate a record of the incident, and take witness statements if anyone else saw what happened. If there were any cameras around, write down where they are located. Traffic cameras and footage from surveillance cameras from nearby businesses could help you prove fault.

As soon as you’ve wrapped up at the scene of the accident, head to your local hospital for treatment right away. Make sure the doctor does a full-check up and you get X-rays taken to see if there are any internal issues going on. Stay on top of your care, going to follow-up appointments, getting medical tests done, and taking prescription medicine as needed. This is critical to your case.

If the other driver’s insurance company gets in touch with you, do not give them details about the accident. You should never say you were injured, either. They could take a recorded statement and use it against you to offer you a low settlement. Never accept their first offer, because your injuries could get worse over time. Then, you won’t have a suitable settlement to cover your medical bills and other damages like a loss of wages and pain and suffering.

Get off the phone with the insurance company and call a personal injury lawyer. They will collect your medical records and other evidence for you, and work hard to get you the settlement you deserve. Plus, they won’t charge you a dime unless they win your case.

Get in Touch With Robin D. Perry & Associates

If you need a personal injury attorney after an autonomous car accident or a Tesla Autopilot crash, then it’s time to get in touch with the Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates today. No matter what, we will fight on your behalf during your time of need. Call us at 562-216-2944 or contact us for a free consultation.