Tesla settles lawsuit of Apple engineer death in autopilot crash

Tesla has reached a resolution in a lawsuit stemming from a tragic car accident in 2018 that resulted in the death of an Apple engineer. Court documents revealed on Monday that the settlement was reached just as the trial was set to commence, marking the end of a prolonged legal battle of engineer death spanning five years.

The lawsuit centered around a highly publicized incident involving Tesla’s driver assistant technology, which saw the vehicle veering off a highway near San Francisco. The terms of the settlement remain undisclosed.

The accident claimed the life of Walter Huang, and Tesla contended that Huang misused the system by engaging in a video game prior to the crash, failing to maintain alertness and control of the vehicle. According to Tesla’s court filings, had Huang been attentive to the road, he could have potentially avoided the collision.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that Huang made no efforts to intervene as his vehicle approached a crash barrier on US Highway 101 in Mountain View, California. They also discovered that Huang was playing a video game on his smartphone at the time of the fatal crash.

Huang’s family alleged that Tesla’s Autopilot system steered his 2017 Model X into the highway barrier, raising concerns about the effectiveness of Tesla’s driver-assistance systems and the company’s understanding of how drivers utilize them.

The settlement of this case may serve as a precedent for others involved in lawsuits related to Tesla’s Autopilot system. With numerous lawsuits pending over crashes linked to Autopilot, Tesla faces potential significant financial liabilities.

Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor specializing in autonomous vehicle law, noted the significance of Tesla’s decision to settle, suggesting it sends a message to other attorneys considering similar cases.

Despite marketing its features as “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving,” Tesla has yet to deliver a fully autonomous vehicle. The company continues to face legal and regulatory scrutiny over accidents involving its driver-assistance systems, emphasizing that these systems require a fully attentive driver at all times.

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