Family of Man Killed in Autopilot Crash Sues Tesla

Tesla is being sued by the family of Wei “Walter” Huang, a software engineer who died when his Model X with Autopilot engaged crashed into a highway safety barrier in March 2018, The Verge reported.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported later that the car had accelerated from 62mph to 70 mph four seconds before the crash. NBC Bay Area and ABC7 News reported that the family filed the suit against both Tesla and the state of California, Business Insider writes.

In the complaint, the family claims that Huang’s Model X lacked safety features, such as an automatic emergency braking system. Such features are available on much less expensive vehicles from other carmakers as well as on more recent Model Xs, Huang’s family said. The Model X does come with automatic emergency braking, according to the owner’s manual.

The family also alleges that Tesla knew, or should have known, “that the Tesla Model X was likely to cause injury to its occupants by leaving travel lanes and striking fixed objects when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner.” The carmaker should have issued a recall or provided a warning “in light of the risk of harm,” the family said in the complaint, Bloomberg writes.

Huang died because “Tesla is beta testing its Autopilot software on live drivers,” B. Mark Fong, a lawyer for the family, said in a statement to Bloomberg. “The Huang family wants to help prevent this tragedy from happening to other drivers using Tesla vehicles or any semi-autonomous vehicles.”

Huang was traveling south on US Highway 101 on March 23rd, 2018, when his Model X P100D smashed into the safety barrier section of a divider that separates the carpool lane from the off-ramp to the left. The front end of his SUV was ripped apart, the vehicle caught fire, and two other cars crashed into the rear end. Huang was removed from the vehicle by rescuers and brought to Stanford Hospital where he died from injuries sustained in the crash.

In June, the NTSB released a preliminary report that attributed the crash to a navigation mistake by Autopilot. Tesla has been removed from the NTSB’s investigation into a fatal Autopilot accident that happened in March, the agency announced today. The NTSB says it took the action because Tesla had released “investigative information before it was vetted and confirmed by” the agency.

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