Tesla’s First Fatal Autopilot Accident: Family Retains Lawyer

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On May 7th, Joshua Brown, 40, was involved in a fatal accident while driving his Tesla Model S in autopilot mode. His family has sought legal representation as reported by the Associated Press.

Brown, a former Navy Seal and tech business owner who sought to provide rural America with internet services, was an advocate of the autopilot mode on his Tesla, which he quaintly nicknamed “Tessy”. In fact, Brown was so enthralled with quality of the self-driving system that he even posted videos of himself on YouTube, taking his hands off the wheel to showcase the car’s ability to avoid collisions on its own.

Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Tesla’s autopilot technology to evaluate data and formulate a conclusion about the incident.

It was a sunny afternoon in Florida when the accident occurred. The Model S was unable to differentiate between the white side of a turning 18-wheeler and the bright clear sky. Brown himself did not respond accordingly to the situation ahead and drove head on into the big-rig. The driver of the 18-wheeler, Frank Baressi, told the Associated Press that the car “went so fast through my trailer, I didn’t see him.”

The impact of the accident was so forceful that the roof was ripped off while the car continued to travel forward another quarter mile before finally stopping against a telephone pole.

Tesla has insisted that its car’s optional autonomous driving features were never intended to be an all encompassing system to remove driver responsibility. According to the car manufacturer, the autopilot feature is meant as a safety net of sorts, and drivers should still continue to carry the vast majority of driving duties.

Claiming that their autopilot system has navigated 130 million miles with only 1 fatal accident on record, while a 2015 report by the US National Safety Council estimated 1.3 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, suggest that statistically, and as per these estimates, autopilot does indeed reduce fatal car accidents nationally.

The Tesla Model S also updates its autopilot every few weeks, but the legal question remains as to who was at fault remains to be fully analyzed.

Truck driver, Baressi, has been cited on seven violations over the last two years, based on federal records. Two of these incidents involved improper lane change and driving more than the legal limit of 14 hours a day.

Yet, Florida Highway Patrol did concur with Baressi’s observation that Brown may have been driving recklessly as a result of watching a movie while driving, as a portable DVD player was found in the crashed Tesla.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will undoubtedly release regulation safety measure for self-driving cars some time in the near future.

But the fact still remains that a death has occurred and affected the lives of an unsuspecting family. Regardless of who it may be that eventually becomes legally liable for this mishap, the family must still deal with the emotional and financial burden that comes along with the loss of a loved one.

That’s why when tragedy strikes, you need a law firm that understands what it takes to see a case through, with the moral compass to provide support when families need it most.

Garcia Law Group is that firm. We’ve worked on numerous significant cases and have helped families receive the financial retribution they deserve, while providing services that go beyond the office. Garcia Law Group is with you every step of the way. See how we can help you today by calling us at 956-661- 8000.

When it’s Garcia Law Group, it’s personal.