Tesla’s electronic vehicles have grown in popularity over the last few years despite significant safety concerns about several of its safety and design features. Teslas have been involved in catastrophic incidents resulting from explosions, sudden acceleration, airbag malfunction, seatbelt failure, and autopilot malfunction. Deaths and injuries from numerous accidents involving Tesla vehicles have prompted regulatory investigations, lawsuits, and concern from customers about whether Tesla’s well-known claims of unparalleled safety are reliable.
Tesla Vehicle Fires & Explosions
Tesla vehicles contain lithium-ion batteries, which may carry an increased risk of fires and explosions. Many fires in Tesla vehicles are caused by the battery experiencing some kind of shock. This may be triggered by a collision at high speed. Tesla vehicles have also been reported to catch fire while charging idly, even when not involved in any recent accident. Some experts believe that the thousands of lithium-ion battery cells in the Tesla battery pack can go into failure mode either from overcharging, undercharging, or overheating. Tesla has been reluctant to disclose the cause of these explosions in the past. Both faulty battery design and negligent manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries have been investigated as potential causes of spontaneous explosions. Many of these incidents have raised concerns as to whether Tesla battery technology is inherently safe. Tesla explosions in Belgium, Hong Kong, California, China, Pennsylvania, Indiana and most recently, Texas, have killed several drivers and passengers.
Tesla’s autopilot feature has been touted as an advanced self-driving system, but in reality, it provides “partial automation”. Partial automation requires drivers to remain engaged while driving. Since Tesla introduced this feature in 2015, there have been eleven deaths in nine crashes in the United States involving autopilot. Outside of the United States, there have been at least nine deaths. While several carmakers have developed similar technology to automate driving functions, there are no reports of deaths in other manufacturer’s automobiles when the self-driving technology was employed. Moreover, after investigating Tesla’s autopilot system, Consumer Reports found that it was not as advanced as other manufacturers’ systems since the latter employ seat sensors and cameras to track a driver’s eye movement to ensure that the car is being operated only while a driver is behind the wheel.
In April 2021, a Tesla Model S veered off a road in Houston, Texas, hit a tree, and exploded. Two passengers were inside the vehicle, but neither of the victims was found in the driver’s seat. The autopilot function was likely engaged. The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that autopilot was responsible for several deadly crashes because drivers relied too heavily on this faulty mechanism.
Reports indicate that Tesla vehicles contain a defect that causes sudden spontaneous acceleration. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there have been 110 crashes and 52 injuries related to sudden acceleration issues. The complaints filed with NHTSA relate to incidents between 2013 and the end of 2019. Tesla has alleged that complaints of sudden acceleration are false, but did not provide details as to how it arrived at this conclusion. According to the NHTSA petition, there are several reports that raise red flags concerning the safety of the autopilot mechanism used by Tesla. Many of the crashes involving sudden acceleration occurred while drivers were in the act of parking their Tesla cars. Moreover, the rate of complaints regarding sudden acceleration in Tesla vehicles was higher than those in other vehicles with similar technology. There are ongoing inquiries to determine whether a defect in the Tesla system triggered the sudden acceleration in these incidents.
In June 2020, a lawsuit against Tesla accused the company of implementing faulty safety features when an airbag failed to deploy during a car crash in Maryland. When another vehicle struck Tesla-owners Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, the Edwards’ Tesla crashed into a guardrail on the I-95 Interstate. Upon collision, none of the airbags deployed. Had the airbags functioned properly, a number of injuries could have been prevented. The accident left the driver with severe brain damage and other injuries. This incident is believed to be the first lawsuit involving the car’s faulty airbag deployment. Tesla has continued to promote its Model 3 as “the safest car ever built” despite another indication of a significant flaw in the design and operation of its safety features.
In the same Maryland accident, in addition to airbag deployment failure, the seat belt did not properly restrain the passenger. The passenger’s head slammed forward, causing serious brain injury. The lawsuit against Tesla alleges that the car was unreasonably dangerous as a result of a faulty seat belt restraint mechanism. Last month, Tesla recalled nearly 8,000 vehicles due to seatbelt malfunctions. The recall affected Model 3 and Model Y cars that may contain faulty driver and front passenger seatbelts. The reason for the recall is that Tesla may have failed to consistently fasten the seatbelts into place. A fastener that is not attached properly may impede the seatbelt’s ability to prevent injuries to passengers. Tesla is also being investigated for other faulty features including its display screen, backup camera, window defroster, and other functions. The NHTSA has asked Tesla to recall over 150,000 of its Model S and Model X vehicles due to the risk of injury or death related to malfunctioning of the keyboard.
Levy Konigsberg is nationally regarded for its representation of plaintiffs in personal injury litigation. We are committed to helping victims of negligence recover damages and obtain justice. If you have been injured while driving or riding in a Tesla vehicle, we would like to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Please call us at (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry above to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
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