Tesla at a charging station.

Tesla Autopilot Crash Update

California ranks among the highest in auto-related injuries and fatalities in the United States. With millions of commuters on California roadways each day, car accidents are inevitable.  However, as statistics attest, the high number of drivers on the road is not the only problem.  Distracted driving and over-reliance on new auto-technologies are contributing to higher percentages of car accidents than ever before; together, they are a recipe for disaster.  

Tesla Auto Crash: A Case for California Personal Injury Attorneys

In March 2018, Apple engineer Walter Huang lost his life in a tragic accident when his Tesla Model X SUV swerved into a concrete barrier in Mountain View, California. Nearly two years later, a scathing report by the National Transportation Safety Board lays responsibility for the deadly crash squarely at Tesla’s doorstep, with contributing negligence attributed to Apple, CalTrans, the California Highway Patrol, and the NHTSA.  

Findings by the NTSB offer vital insight for California personal injury attorneys working to hold negligent parties accountable and recover damages for injured clients.

Video Games and Tesla’s Failed Autopilot System

The NTSB reports the car crash which claimed the life of driver Walter Huang resulted from a primary failure of Tesla’s autopilot functions, combined with distracted driving. With Tesla’s autopilot system engaged, Huang played a video game on his Apple Smartphone, removing his focus and attention from the roadway. 

Reliance on Tesla’s auto-pilot system and diverted attention to his Smartphone proved Huang’s fatal mistakes. Upon analysis by the NTSB, it was shown that the Tesla SUV swerved into a concrete highway barrier at an accelerating speed, failing to engage any safety measures or braking systems.  Additionally, had Tesla’s autopilot system been equipped to monitor Huang’s lack of attention and alert him, Huang may have been able to regain control of the car and take preventative measures to avoid the crash. 

Layers of Negligence: Tesla, Apple, CHP, CalTrans, NHTSA

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt noted several failures in the car crash of Walter Huang:

Tesla’s autopilot system

  • failed to process the correct lane of travel 
  • did not detect the smart cushion crash barrier 
  • did not provide an alert of the barrier
  • braking system did not activate
  • insufficient means of monitoring the driver’s lack of attention


  • lack of features that prevent phone use while driving
  • “do not disturb while driving” optional vs. default setting 


  • failure to report damage to safety barrier from an earlier crash


  • failure to repair safety barrier damaged 11 days prior

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

  • lack of oversight
  • failure to impose recommendations by NTSB regarding crash prevention
  • lack of investigative follow-through re misuse of autopilot systems

How Your CA Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

When suffering injury or loss at the hands of another’s negligence, it can be challenging to know who is really at fault. As evidenced by the Mountain View Tesla crash, the answer isn’t always straightforward.  There are often many layers of negligence resulting in pain and suffering from a car accident. 

If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact a personal injury attorney immediately.  Experienced California personal injury attorneys have the skills and resources needed to analyze your car accident, determine who is at fault, and help you get the compensation you deserve.