Florida resident Shawn Hudson bought a Tesla Model S in 2017, hoping that its Autopilot capabilities would help him on his long daily commute. He drove the car happily for over 98,000 miles, but then one morning while driving to work, he crashed into a disabled car on the Florida Turnpike. He survived the crash but suffers from permanent injuries.
Mr. Hudson recently filed a self-driving car lawsuit against Tesla, alleging that the automaker made false statements about their Autopilot feature regarding its safety. He filed the lawsuit in Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court and seeks in excess of $15,000 in damages.
Tesla Vehicle Crashes into Disabled Car on Highway
Mr. Hudson’s daily commute is about 125 miles one way, which is why he purchased the Tesla in the first place. He uses the highway most of the way, so he figured the self-driving system would make it easier for him to manage the commute.
During that first, nearly 100,000 miles that he drove the car, he used the Autopilot regularly. While on the highway in self-driving mode, he would check his phone and send emails. Then one morning in October 2018, he was driving about 80 miles per hour on the highway in the left lane, with the Autopilot engaged, when his car crashed into a disabled Ford Fiesta in the passing lane.
Mr. Hudson said he was not completely disengaged at the time. He had his hands on the wheel and was looking up and looking down at his phone while moving along on the highway. It was when he looked up in one instance that he saw the disabled car in the passing lane, but by then it was too late to take over the controls and stop his own vehicle. It seems the Autopilot did not detect that the car was disabled.
Plaintiff Says Tesla Makes False Statements About Autonomous Feature
Mr. Hudson says that he now suffers from permanent injuries, including pain from fractured vertebrae and cognitive problems. He claims that Tesla misleads drivers into a false sense of security, believing that the vehicles can drive themselves while on Autopilot. While under that belief, drivers cannot react in time to dangerous conditions on the road.
Tesla maintains that there is no evidence to show that the Autopilot feature malfunctioned. They state that drivers should always maintain control of the vehicle while using the feature. Hudson says, however, that the company is making false statements about the system, convincing consumers that it can safely maneuver the vehicle while on the highway with minimal input from drivers.
Tesla said in a statement that while using Autopilot, it is the driver’s responsibility to remain attentive to their surroundings and in control of the vehicle at all times.
Tesla Facing Another Lawsuit Filed by Utah Driver
This lawsuit comes just a couple months after a similar lawsuit was filed in Utah. Heather Lommatzsch filed her case in September 2018 and claimed that Tesla’s sales representatives assured her that while using the Autopilot mode, she would only have to touch the steering wheel occasionally. She was driving her Tesla Model S in a suburb of Salt Lake City when she crashed into a mechanic truck from the Unified Fire Authority. The truck and other southbound traffic were at a complete stop at the time.
According to the police report, she was using the Autopilot feature when the crash occurred and admitted to looking at her phone prior to the collision. She suffered a broken right foot in the crash. The truck driver escaped with minor injuries.
NBC News reports that according to the police, it seems the Tesla vehicle was following another vehicle and dropped its speed to match, then when that vehicle changed lanes, it speeds up again without noticing the cars ahead. The plaintiff is seeking in excess of $300,000 in damages.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.