Family of Driver Killed from Tesla Car Crash Hires Minami Tamaki LLP to Explore Legal Options

UPDATED (June 7, 2018) – Statement from Mark Fong of Minami Tamaki LLP, attorney for the family of Walter Huang:

The NTSB preliminary report issued Thursday includes facts that appear to contradict Tesla’s characterization of Walter Huang’s tragic death from an accident involving Autopilot.

Tesla claims Walter was provided multiple warnings before the accident. However, the NTSB’s report states that Walter’s Tesla did not provide any warning in the six seconds before the crash, when his hands were allegedly not on the wheel. The last hands-on alert to Walter was more than 15 minutes before the crash.

The NTSB’s investigation also showed Walter’s hands were detected on the wheel three times in the last 60 seconds before the crash, for a total of 34 seconds.

Tesla also blames Walter’s alleged failure to pay attention as the sole cause of the accident. The NTSB report provides facts that support our concerns that there was a failure of both the Tesla Autopilot and the automatic braking systems of the car.

The report states that four seconds before the crash, Walter’s Tesla, under the control of the car’s Autopilot system, disengaged from following the car ahead and then accelerated at a high rate of speed into a fixed concrete highway barrier. In the final three seconds, the car accelerated from 62 to 70.8 mph.

The Autopilot system should never have caused this to happen.

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From April 10, 2018:

The family of Walter Huang, who died March 23, 2018, in a Tesla car crash, has hired the Minami Tamaki LLP law firm to explore legal options for them.

Huang died from fatal injuries suffered when the “Autopilot” of his 2017 Tesla Model X drove his car into the unprotected edge of a concrete highway median that was missing its crash guard.

The firm’s preliminary review has uncovered complaints by other Tesla drivers of navigational errors by the Autopilot feature, and other lawsuits have also made this complaint. The firm believes Tesla’s Autopilot feature is defective and likely caused Huang’s death, despite Tesla’s apparent attempt to blame the victim of this terrible tragedy.

The Huang family intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla and, possibly, its subcontractors involved in the design and construction of the Autopilot system. The grounds for the suit may include product liability, defective product design, failure to warn, breach of warranty, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, and false advertising. The family may also file a lawsuit against the California Department of Transportation for dangerous condition of public property.

“Mrs. Huang lost her husband, and two children lost their father,” said B. Mark Fong, a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP. “The family wants to investigate this incident and help ensure that this tragedy does not happen to other consumers who buy semi-autonomous vehicles. Our goal as the family’s attorneys is to protect public safety, by ensuring the technology behind semi-autonomous cars is safe before it is released on the roads, and its risks are not misrepresented to the public.”

Minami Tamaki’s preliminary review indicates that the navigation system of the Tesla may have misread the lane lines on the roadway, failed to detect the concrete median, failed to brake the car, and drove the car into the median. In addition, the concrete highway median was missing its crash attenuator guard, as Caltrans failed to replace the guard after an earlier crash there. The lack of a guard potentially increased Huang’s injuries.

Huang is survived by his wife of ten years, Sevonne, and their son and daughter, ages 3 and 6. He was a loving father to his children, a devoted husband, and a dedicated son who supported his elderly parents financially.

If you or someone you know has information relating to Tesla’s Autopilot or the incident involving Walter Huang, please contact attorney B. Mark Fong at markfong@minamitamaki.net or at 415-851-1497.

For more information about this case, visit http://minamitamaki.com/huang.

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Walter Huang (left) and his wife Sevonne Huang. Walter Huang, of Foster City, Calif., died March 23, 2018, in a Tesla car crash. Huang’s family has hired the Minami Tamaki LLP law firm in San Francisco to explore legal options for them.