Is Tesla Misrepresenting the Autopilot Feature?
Is Tesla Misrepresenting the Autopilot Feature?

In January 2016, just a few months before Joshua Brown was killed in a Tesla crash, 23-year-old Gao Yaning died on his way home from a wedding reception in Hebei, China. Yaning was driving his father’s Tesla Model S using the Autopilot feature.

Yaning’s father Jubin is now suing Tesla for misleading customer about the safety and sophistication of Autopilot. The company claims there is no reason to believe Autopilot ever functioned other than as designed. However, they have agreed to a third-party appraisal to determine whether the feature was in use when Yaning crashed.

When probed about issues with Autopilot, Tesla always cites the owner’s manual, which warns that the feature is in beta-testing, and drivers should keep their hands on the wheel at all times. While that may be true, are Tesla dealerships selling drivers on the idea that Autopilot is more advanced than it really is?

NTSB Investigates Autopilot Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believes so. After investigating the 2016 death of Joshua Brown, the NTSB determined that, while Brown was not paying enough attention to the road, Tesla also had not adequately considered the “human element” of its Autopilot feature. They explain that airline pilots understand that, even in autopilot mode, they still play a crucial role in flying the plane. In contrast, perhaps drivers conclude from the name of the feature—Autopilot—that they do not need to pay attention to driving. Additionally, the investigation found that the system’s automatic emergency braking system failed to activate before the crash.

“Autonomous vehicles are on the way, but the technology is not yet at a place where drivers can take their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road. Tesla and other automakers with self-driving features must do a better job of communicating this to customers,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured by a defective product and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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