Tesla is being sued by police officers injured after drunk Model X driver crashed into them on Autopilot

Tesla is named as a defendant in a lawsuit by five police officers who suffered injuries after a Model X on Autopilot crashed into them during a traffic stop.

While Autopilot is being blamed, the officers are also suing a restaurant that reportedly overserved the driver.

The lawsuit stems from an accident that happened earlier this year in Splendora, Texas:

“On February 27, 2021, a Tesla Model X engaged in Autopilot and equipped with Tesla’s proprietary system of safety features, crashed into several police officers who were engaged in a traffic stop in a blocked-off lane of traffic on the Eastex Freeway in Texas. All were badly injured.”

They are suing Tesla because they claim that the accident was caused by a “defect” where Autopilot doesn’t detect emergency vehicles.

They wrote in the lawsuit:

“”Due to the design and manufacturing defects known to Tesla, Tesla’s failure to adequately warm of those defects, and Tesla’s unwillingness to admit or correct such defects, the Autopilot and Tesla’s system safety features failed to detect the officers’ cars or to function in any way to avoid or warn of the hazard and subsequent crash.”

They cite the current NHTSA investigation into crashes involving Tesla vehicles on Autopilot and emergency vehicles.

Interestingly, the lawsuit is also going after Pappas Restaurants, who the plaintiff claim overserved the Tesla driver.

They wrote in the lawsuit:

“Defendant Pappas Restaurants Inc. owns the restaurant Pappasito’s Cantina where the driver of the Tesla was overserved alcohol before the accident. The driver showed obvious signs of intoxication at the time of the crash. The police report from the crash stated that the driver was arrested on suspicion of intoxication assault.”

The lawsuit is requesting damages in excess of $1 million with maximum damages of $20 million from Tesla and Pappas Restaurants.

Here’s the full lawsuit:

[scribd id=528094332 key=key-y7H7hQ54FlTdqWArjsX9 mode=scroll]

Electrek‘s take

I am sorry that those police officers had to go through that experience, but I don’t think they have a good case against Tesla with this lawsuit.

Tesla makes it clear to drivers that they are responsible for their vehicle at all times, and they need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and be ready to take control at all times.

If you are driving under the influence, which sounds like it was the case here, you can’t do that and that’s not Tesla’s fault.

It sounds like they might be relying on the NTHSA investigation about crashes with emergency vehicles, but as we previously discussed, I think the investigation is misguided as the problem is not with emergency vehicles specifically, but Tesla Autopilot having issues with stopped vehicles in general.

However, Autopilot is a level 2 driver-assist system and not designed to avoid every possible accident, hence why drivers need to stay attentive, which you can’t do when you are drunk.

In some ways, it is a complex situation, but it also simply boils down to you can’t blame Autopilot for a drunk driver.

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