A longstanding goal of the "Green Revolution" has been the replacement
of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines with those powered
by electrical energy. This has led to the introduction of the first mass-produced
"total electric" vehicles. However, concerns have been raised
over the safety of such vehicles due to unresolved issues concerning their
How the Accident Occurred
The following account is compiled from several local news sources. Although
we cannot speak of the accuracy of these reports, we believe them to be
At about 4:30 on the afternoon of February 14th, Omar Awan was driving a 2016
Tesla Model S "at a high rate of speed" (Forbes.com quotes witnesses who estimate the vehicle's speed to have been from
75 to 90 mph in a 50 mph zone) along South Flamingo Road in the Miami
suburb of Davie. According to witnesses and police investigators, Awan
appeared to have drifted to the right shoulder and then "overcorrected."
The vehicle then crossed three lanes of traffic before crashing into a
grove of trees in the highway median. By the time first responders arrived
on scene, the vehicle was engulfed in flames. After the fire was extinguished,
rescuers discovered that Awan was "burned beyond recognition."
At this time it is not known if Awan suffered a "medical condition"
in the moments before the accident or if a mechanical defect / malfunction
may have contributed to the crash.
Based on the above, we have identified four issues suggesting the that
the victim's Tesla Model S was
defective in both design and assembly.
the vehicle's airbags
did not deflate after deploying normally on impact
the vehicle's electric door handles
did not extend, thwarting efforts to rescue the driver
- the vehicle caught fire on impact or shortly afterward
the vehicle's lithium-ion battery casing was damaged, allowing it to
catch fire at least twice
after the original vehicle fire was extinguished
While we admit that our information may be incomplete, we feel the local
and national media may have documented several issues that suggest the
Tesla Motors, may have marketed a product that is inherently unsafe. In the next section,
we will discuss
why we believe these observations could support a wrongful death due to a
defective product lawsuit.
Current Issues Surrounding the Model S
As mentioned above, we feel that the Tesla Model S has several safety issues.
The airbag system used by Tesla in its 2016 Model S product was manufactured by the
Takata Corporation. This is the same company that was forced into bankruptcy by the costs
related to the mandatory recall of millions of its only product: airbags.
At the time of the Davie accident, Tesla was involved in a
voluntary recall of its later model-year products to replace potentially defective airbags.
That recall would have included the Davie vehicle but, to the best of
our knowledge, its maintenance record is not currently available.
Electric door handles
The Tesla product line is noted for its recessed door handles which, as
seen in this short
YouTube video, are flush with the vehicle's doors unless a sensor detects a nearby
(within inches) presence. The door handle will then automatically extend
and allow entry by the driver or passenger. According to the
2016 Model S Owner's Manual,
if an airbag deploys the door handles the door are supposed to extend automatically
when the airbag
deflates. According to witnesses at the scene, the vehicle's airbag
did not deflate, and the door handles
did not extend, thus defeating efforts to rescue the driver before the vehicle
became engulfed by fire.
Vehicle fires following high-speed accidents are not uncommon but neither
are they commonplace. Most vehicle fires occur when the mechanical forces
generated during an accident cause a rupture of the fuel tank causes a
fuel leak that is ignited by a spark or by fuel coming into contact with
hot metal. In the Davie accident, a fuel leak
cannot have been responsible for the subsequent fire for one reason: the Tesla
Model S, like all Tesla vehicles, is electrically powered and thus
does not have a fuel tank!
Tesla's lithium-ion battery offers the best combination of battery
weight / storage capacity / vehicle range. The only problem with Tesla's
battery is that, like any other lithium battery, it is chemically unstable
and will vigorously burn if its plastic casing is damaged and water, in
any form, reaches its internal structure. Even the moisture that is normally
present in the atmosphere ("humidity") is sufficient to start
this reaction. This appears to have been the cause of the two fires that
after the Davie accident, the first occurring after the vehicle had been loaded
onto a tow truck but had not yet left the accident scene and the second
fire occurring several
hours later at the vehicle storage yard.
When a company sells any product, it does so with an
implied warranty that the product is safe to use. If a product later causes an injury due
to some factor the manufacturer either
knew was present, or
should have known aboutif the product had been adequately tested.
In the case of the Tesla Model S involved in the Davie accident, there
seem to be several findings suggesting the vehicle was unsafe
that those findings were responsible for the death of the vehicle's owner.
If you were injured in an auto accident involving a vehicle containing
a lithium-ion battery, we invite you to
contactt the automobile accident injury lawyer at
The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with offices located throughout
the country to arrange a free, no obligation, review of your automobile
accident personal injury case and a discussion of the legal options that
may be available to you.
We look forward to your call, and we are ready to help you earn the best
possible settlement for your injuries and other losses.