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First Deadly Self Driving Car Accident Occurs in Florida

Back on May 7th, a fatal collision between a tractor trailer and a Tesla took place in Williston, Florida. Recently, as more details of the accident have emerged, the crash has become a national story. As reported by the Associated Press, this accident was the first time a driver died in the United States while using a Tesla’s self driving autopilot mode. The accident has sparked renewed fears over Tesla’s autopilot feature and self driving cars in general.

The Autopilot Misidentified the Truck

Tesla’s autopilot feature, which is semi-autonomous, is one of the most cutting edge self driving technologies currently available on the market. When the vehicle is in autopilot mode, sensors and software are activated to control the vehicle and help ensure that it is driven properly. Fundamentally, the system is designed to keep the car in the correct lane while also conforming to the speed of surrounding traffic. However, in this case, the investigation indicates that the vehicle’s camera sensors misidentified the white side of the truck trailer. Accident investigators noted that the sky was especially bright at the time the accident occurred, and the truck was engaged in a turn. Therefore, it is believed that the sensor could not distinguish between the white trailer and the sky. The car failed to engage the brakes as it should have done in the scenario. Tragically, this led the Tesla to crash into the truck’s trailer at high speed, killing the driver of the car.

Is Tesla Liable for the Accident?

Companies can, and should, be held liable for injuries that occur as a result of defective products. However, Tesla contends that they are not liable for this accident. According to the company, everything worked as expected. Even though the autopilot failed to identify the truck trailer, Tesla denies that their software was defective. The company bases their assertion on the claim that auto pilot mode is only ‘semi-autonomous’ and therefore, while it can help control the vehicle, it is not currently intended to be perfect. Under this theory, it is still ultimately the driver’s responsibility to control the vehicle. However, these claims do not necessarily absolve the company of liability for the accident. There is evidence to suggest that Tesla intentionally created an impression in the minds of consumers that the autopilot feature could be trusted to handle the car on its own. Companies have a legal duty to adequately warn consumers about potential product dangers. If companies fail to live up to this legal duty, they can be held liable for resulting injuries.

Contact a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in car accident, the passionate attorneys at Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group can help. Our team has extensive experience handling all types of Florida car accidents, including product liability claims. You deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries. Please do not hesitate to contact our Tampa Bay office today at (813) 242-4404 to schedule a free initial review of your case.

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