Tesla Model S Involved in Fatal South Florida Crash
22-year-old woman killed after Tesla Model S ran stop sign, collided with parked vehicle
For the second time in three months, a vehicle made by Tesla Motors has been involved in a fatal traffic accident. In this post, the automobile accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm will report on the circumstances of the latest crash before discussing the possibility that recent accident investigations suggest that Tesla’s highly-touted “Autopilot” driver assistance system may contain serious design flaws.
At about 9:30 p.m. on April 25, 2019 a Tesla Model S driven by George McGee ran a three-way stop sign at a “T” intersection on State Road 905 near Key Largo (FL) before colliding with a Chevy Tahoe pickup that was legally parked on the shoulder. The Tesla’s speed at the time of impact was sufficient to cause the Tahoe to spin with enough force to knock 22-year-old Benavides Leon Naibel, who had been standing beside the truck with Angulo Dillion, 27, some 20 feet and into a tree line. Naibel died at the scene, while both Dillon and McGee were hospitalized with serious injuries. According to a statement released by the Florida Highway Patrol, investigators are attempting to learn if the Tesla’s Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the accident.
Previous Tesla Incidents
The most recent accident represents the fifth time this year an accident involving a Tesla vehicle has been the subject of national news coverage.
On May 1, the family of Walter Huang announced they had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla over the March 2018 accident where they allege that his Tesla Model X suddenly accelerated before it “drove itself” into a concrete barrier on a California freeway.
In April, the battery pack of a Tesla Model S caught fire in a parking deck in Shanghai.
In March, the driver of a Tesla Model 3 was killed when the vehicle’s Autopilot apparently mistook a turning tractor-trailer rig to be a highway overpass and thus failed to take immediate action to avoid an accident.
Also in March, a Tesla owner in Shanghai reported that his Tesla Model S had suddenly accelerated before crashing into a river next to a battery charging station.
A Tesla driver was killed in a high-speed, single-vehicle accident on February 14th. Although the Autopilot system does not appear to have played a role in this case, this accident is the source of the “zombie battery” report where the vehicle’s battery back caught fire twiceafter the original fire had been extinguished.
At The Doan Law Firm, we believe that automobiles manufactured by Tesla are unsafe for two reasons: potential fire risks associated with its lithium-ion battery technology and undisclosed shortcomings with its “Autopilot” driver assisting package.
By their physical properties, lithium-ion batteries become chemically unstable if exposed to water. This doesn’t pose a problem unless the battery’s protective casing is damaged in an accident, when even the water vapor normally present in the atmosphere is sufficient to cause a fire that is very difficult to extinguish. Tesla admits it is working on new battery technology that it hopes will resolve this issue but, since not even Tesla has the ability to suspend the laws of chemistry and physics, we don’t see this happening in the near future. Thus, Tesla has no option except to sell vehicles it knows could burst into flames after an accident!
Although a major selling point for Tesla is its “driverless vehicle” technology, the shortcomings of its onboard computer’s operating software has been well-documented on this website as well as on others. Unless Tesla can improve its object recognition technology (such as its problems with telling the difference between a semi and a highway overpass), we feel that drivers are being exposed to an unnecessary of serious injury or death.</p>
If you or a member have been injured in an accident involving any “autonomous” or “self-driving” technology, we invite you to contact the automobile accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm to arrange a free review of the facts in your accident injury case and a discussion of the legal options that may be available to you.
When you contact our firm, your case review and first consultation with our automobile accident injury lawyer is always free of any charges and does require that you hire us as your legal counsel. If you later decide that a lawsuit is in order, and that you would like to have our firm represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.