June 5, 2023

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Tesla today defeated a lawsuit that claimed its Autopilot technology caused a car crash that left the plaintiff with severe injuries.

“A California state court jury on Friday handed Tesla a sweeping win, finding that the carmaker’s Autopilot feature did not fail to perform safely in what appears to be the first trial related to a crash involving the partially automated driving software,” Reuters reported.

Justine Hsu sued Tesla in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2020, saying Tesla’s Autopilot technology in her Model S malfunctioned and caused the car to swerve into the road’s center median so fast that she had no time to react. The lawsuit said the airbag deployed improperly during the July 2019 crash, “caus[ing] numerous breaks in Hsu’s jaw and the loss of multiple teeth.”

Hsu’s lawsuit said she had undergone three surgeries and continued to require medical treatment. “Because of the Autopilot failure, and the improper deployment of the airbags, Plaintiff Hsu suffered severe injuries, resulting in a broken jaw, broken teeth, and multiple injuries to her face, hands, and legs,” the complaint said.

Hsu sought over $3 million in damages, while Tesla argued “that Hsu used Autopilot on city streets, despite Tesla’s user manual warning against doing so,” according to Reuters. In addition to rejecting Hsu’s Autopilot claim, the jury “found that the airbag did not fail to perform safely, and that Tesla did not intentionally fail to disclose facts to her,” Reuters wrote.

Tesla is expected to face more trials over its automated-driving technology. One pending case was brought by five Texas police officers who were injured in February 2021 when a Tesla Model X in Autopilot mode crashed into police vehicles that were stopped and had their flashing lights turned on. There’s also an ongoing investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into crashes involving Tesla cars using Autopilot.

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