Tesla Faces Yet Another Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit
Elon Musk has been in the news a good deal recently due to his proposed acquisition of Twitter. But Musk’s current company, Tesla, has been in court a lot more addressing legal challenges to the safety of its famous electric cars. Indeed, here in Florida and around the country, there have been multiple personal injury claims filed alleging defects in Tesla vehicles have contributed to serious–and even fatal–accidents.
Parents of Deceased Teen Alleged Tesla Disabled “Speed Limiter” Without Their Knowledge
For example, in March 2018, an 18-year-old male was driving a Tesla Model S through Fort Lauderdale. While attempting to pass another car, the teenage driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed, killing him and his passenger. A second passenger was also seriously injured.
Law enforcement later determined the vehicle was traveling at about 116 miles per hour at the time. This surprised the victim’s parents, who owned the Tesla. Two months before the accident, they had requested Tesla install a “speed limiter” on the vehicle. Basically, this was a device offered by Tesla to prevent the Model S from exceeding speeds of 85 miles per hour.
Tesla did, in fact, install the speed limiter at the parents’ request. But it was later removed during another service call. Tesla did not inform the parents that the speed limiter had been disabled until after their son’s fatal accident.
The teenager driver’s estate subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla. The lawsuit alleged Tesla was negligent in disabling the speed limiter. It further alleged that the design of the batteries in the Model S were negligent in that they contained insufficient insulation to protect against fire upon collision.
The lawsuit remains pending before a federal court in south Florida. On May 11, a Magistrate Judge assigned to hear pretrial motions in the case denied Tesla’s motion to dismiss both of the claims described above on summary judgment. With respect to the issue of the speed limiter, the magistrate credited the testimony of the victim’s father, who testified that he would never have allowed his son to use the Model S on the day of the accident had he known Tesla disabled the feature. Tesla argued that was “impermissible speculation” But the magistrate said that was a question for a jury to decide.
Regarding the battery design, the estate presented expert testimony that the absence of certain flame-retardant materials did create an “unreasonably dangerous condition.” Again, the magistrate did not actually rule on the merits of this argument. Rather, she said there was sufficient admissible evidence to present the matter to a jury.
Speak with a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Today
Cars are complex machines where any defect may substantially increase the risk of injury or death. If you, or someone in your family, has been harmed by a dangerous vehicle and you need to speak with a qualified Boca Raton defective products attorney, Contact Leifer & Ramirez today to schedule a free consultation.