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Why Did Tesla Just Recall Two Million Vehicles?

By The Husband and Wife Law Team on January 20, 2024

Drivers POV of a tesla dash.

Recently, Tesla issued the largest-ever recall in its history, affecting over 2 million vehicles in the U.S. The recall is aimed at installing new safeguards in Tesla’s Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system, following safety concerns raised by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Ultimately, Tesla’s massive recall raises essential questions about the safety of advanced driver-assistance systems and the responsibilities of both automakers and drivers. Understanding the company’s legal responsibility and seeking professional guidance is essential for anyone involved in a Tesla-related accident case.

Detailing the Recall: Why Now?

The recall came after over two years of investigation by the NHTSA into whether Tesla’s vehicles, particularly those equipped with the Autopilot feature, adequately ensure that drivers remain attentive while using the system. The safety regulator expressed concerns that Autopilot’s software controls may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse, potentially increasing the risk of crashes.

The NHTSA initiated a safety probe in August 2021 after a series of fatal crashes involving the use of Autopilot were reported. Acting NHTSA Administrator Ann Carlson commended Tesla for agreeing to the recall, emphasizing that drivers were not always paying attention when the Autopilot system was engaged.

The recall is a proactive measure by Tesla to address the shortcomings identified by the NHTSA. The safety regulator found that Autopilot can provide inadequate driver engagement and usage controls, leading to foreseeable misuse. Tesla, though disagreeing with the NHTSA’s analysis, has committed to deploying an over-the-air software update to enhance controls and alerts, encouraging drivers to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility when Autosteer is engaged.

The Potential Risks of Tesla Vehicles

The NHTSA’s investigation revealed that there have been instances where Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot collided with stationary emergency vehicles. The inadequacies in driver engagement and usage controls in the Autopilot system were identified as contributing factors to these accidents. The software-only fix proposed by Tesla aims to address these concerns by increasing the visibility of visual alerts, simplifying engagement and disengagement of Autosteer, and implementing additional checks upon engaging Autosteer.

Factors Influencing Legal Liability

Liability in accidents involving Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot could be influenced by the findings of the NHTSA’s investigation. The safety regulator highlighted the risk of increased crashes when Autopilot is engaged and drivers fail to maintain responsibility or are unprepared to intervene.

Tesla’s proactive recall and commitment to software updates may mitigate liability to some extent, but legal implications could still arise, especially in cases where defects involved in the recall are proven to have caused specific accidents.

What Should You Do if You’ve Been Hurt by a Tesla?

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot, it’s important to take certain steps to protect your rights and interests. First and foremost, seek medical attention for any injuries. If you are safe and able, document the accident scene, gather witness statements, and obtain a copy of the police report. Preserve any evidence, such as photos or videos, which may be relevant to the case. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney is essential to navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding these incidents.

How a Phoenix Auto Product Liability Attorney Can Support You

An experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in product liability can assist you in several ways. Your Phoenix auto product liability lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the accident, evaluate the impact of the NHTSA’s findings on your case, and determine the extent to which the Autopilot system’s shortcomings contributed to the incident. Your attorney can also help you navigate the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and pursue maximum compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

Contact The Husband & Wife Law Team

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a Tesla, don’t hesitate to contact The Husband & Wife Law Team. Our Phoenix attorneys are deeply familiar with Tesla accident cases and their unique potential challenges, including the involvement of Tesla’s Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system.

Let us handle the legal process while you focus on recovery—call us at (602) 457-6222 today for a free consultation.

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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer