Car Industry

Tesla hit with lawsuit over fatal California crash involving Autopilot

The complaint also lists California's Department of Transportation as a defendant.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

In 2018, Walter Huang's Tesla Model X collided with a highway barrier while Autopilot was running, killing Huang and sparking a large vehicle fire. Now, Huang's family has filed a lawsuit against the California-based automaker.

The family of Walter Huang has filed a lawsuit against Tesla in California state court. The complaint, which was filed on April 26 and can be read in full at the bottom of this story, seeking damages due to perceived negligence on Tesla's part.

"At all relevant times herein, Defendants were negligent and careless in their design, manufacture, testing, marketing, sale, and maintenance of the 2017 Tesla Model X, and Defendants were negligent and careless in failing and omitting to provide adequate instructions and warnings to protect against injuries occurring as a result of vehicle malfunction and the absence of an effective automatic emergency braking system, as occurred here," the complaint reads.

On March 23, 2018, Huang's Model X was driving with Autopilot engaged when the vehicle veered left, taking the vehicle out of its lane and colliding with a concrete barrier on US Highway 101 in Mountain View, California. The photo above from ABC7 News shows the remnants of the car. 

The State of California's Department of Transportation is also listed as a defendant in the complaint, which alleges the department failed to repair a crash attenuator that was damaged in a previous collision in the same area.

Following the fatal crash, Tesla released a statement casting blame on Huang while touting the benefits of its system, which seeks to hold a vehicle in its lane and keep pace with highway traffic. The NTSB released the preliminary results of its investigation on June 7, 2018. While the report did not assign official blame, the NTSB pointed to multiple contributing factors, including both Huang and the Autopilot system, in addition to the damaged crash attenuator.   

Tesla declined to comment.

Originally published May 1, 8:16 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:52 a.m.: Added Tesla's lack of comment.; Update, 7:22 p.m. PT: Corrects photo attribution..