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Tesla Settles Lawsuit over 2018 Autopilot Crash that Killed an Apple Engineer

Product Liability, Wrongful Death

Tesla Settles a Lawsuit over a 2018 Accident that Killed an Apple Engineer that was Using the Autopilot Feature on His Tesla Model X

In a recent legal development, Tesla, Inc. has reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought forth by the family of Walter Huang, a Silicon Valley engineer who tragically lost his life in an accident while using Tesla’s Autopilot feature. The lawsuit, filed in 2019, centered on allegations of negligence and wrongful death against Tesla. This case highlights the ongoing debates around the safety and reliability of semi-autonomous driving technologies, which are becoming increasingly prevalent on our roads.

Case Overview

On March 23, 2018, Walter Huang, a 38-year-old engineer at Apple, was involved in a fatal collision while commuting to work in his Tesla Model X. After dropping his son off at preschool, Huang activated the Autopilot feature of his vehicle. However, within 20 minutes of his journey on a busy highway in Mountain View, California, the Autopilot system misdirected the car out of its lane, causing it to accelerate and crash into a concrete barrier at over 70 miles per hour.

This catastrophic event not only claimed Huang’s life but also raised serious concerns about the functionality and safety of Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving software. Reports from the scene indicated that Huang was distracted, playing a video game on his iPhone, relying on the Autopilot to manage the driving task. This incident serves as a sobering reminder of the critical need for drivers to remain vigilant and engaged, even when advanced autonomous technologies are in use.

 Key Aspects Of The Case

The lawsuit against Tesla, Inc. involves critical aspects that highlight broader legal and ethical considerations in product safety and consumer rights. Here are the key elements of the case:

  1. Incident Overview: Walter Huang, a 38-year-old engineer at Apple, died in a crash while using the Autopilot feature on his Tesla Model X on March 23, 2018.
  2. Location and Details of the Crash: The crash occurred on a busy highway in Mountain View, California. The Autopilot veered the car out of its lane and accelerated into a concrete barrier at a speed exceeding 70 miles per hour.
  3. Lawsuit Filed: Huang’s family filed a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla in 2019, claiming that the company had exaggerated the capabilities of its Autopilot technology, leading to a false sense of security.
  4. Settlement: Tesla settled the lawsuit with Huang’s family shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin in 2024. The settlement amount was requested to be kept confidential.
  5. Claims Against Tesla: The lawsuit accused Tesla of repeatedly misrepresenting the effectiveness and safety of its Autopilot technology, contributing to Huang’s death.
  6. Impact on Tesla: The incident and subsequent lawsuit are part of a broader scrutiny of Tesla’s autonomous driving technology, with several similar cases reported across the United States.
  7. Regulatory Scrutiny: The U.S. Justice Department opened an inquiry into how Tesla promotes its autonomous technology, reflecting ongoing concerns about the safety and marketing of such technologies.
  8. Previous Legal Precedents: Tesla had previously won a similar case in Southern California, which also involved the Autopilot feature.
  9. Surviving Family: Huang is survived by his wife and two children, who were 12 and 9 years old at the time of the settlement.

In terms of legal implications, this case adds to a growing body of lawsuits that question the safety promises of autonomous vehicle technology. It emphasizes the need for clearer regulations and standards governing the deployment and operation of these systems to ensure user safety and manage public expectations.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident with a semi-autonomous or autonomous vehicle, it is crucial to seek legal advice immediately. Understanding your rights and the complexities of the law in such cases is essential for securing justice and appropriate compensation. Our law firm specializes in handling cases involving vehicle accidents, including those complicated by autonomous driving technologies.

We are committed to providing you with the support and expertise needed to navigate these challenging legal waters. With a deep understanding of both the technology involved and the legal frameworks that govern these cases, our wrongful death attorneys are uniquely equipped to advocate on your behalf.

Do not wait to get the help you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and ensure that your rights are fully protected. Let us help you take the first step towards resolution and recovery in your case.


What should I do immediately after an accident involving a semi-autonomous vehicle? Immediately after an accident, ensure your safety and that of others. Contact emergency services if needed, document the scene with photos and videos, and gather witness information. Contacting a lawyer experienced in autonomous vehicle accidents is also crucial, as these cases can involve complex legal and technical issues.

How do semi-autonomous vehicle accidents differ from regular vehicle accidents in legal terms? Semi-autonomous vehicle accidents often involve questions of product liability, software malfunction, and the adequacy of user instructions or warnings. These elements can complicate liability and require specialized legal understanding to navigate effectively.

Can I claim compensation if my accident was caused by a semi-autonomous vehicle? Yes, if you can demonstrate that the semi-autonomous vehicle failed to operate as expected and this failure contributed to your accident, you might be eligible for compensation. This can include damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

What role does manufacturer liability play in accidents involving autonomous technology? Manufacturers can be held liable if it is proven that their technology was faulty or if they failed to warn users adequately about the technology’s limitations. Each case requires a detailed investigation to determine the specifics of liability.

How can a lawyer help in cases involving semi-autonomous vehicles? A lawyer with experience in autonomous vehicle technology can provide crucial guidance on the legal standards and evidentiary requirements necessary to build a strong case. They can also help navigate the intersection of evolving technology and law, ensuring that your case is handled expertly.


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Don’t navigate the aftermath of a wrongful death case alone. Let the Scranton Law Firm stand by your side. With over 50 years of experience as personal injury lawyers, we’ve helped thousands recover from their losses. If you or a loved one are harmed by a Tesla, Inc. product don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Secure your rights and seek the justice you deserve. Call us now for a free consultation – The Scranton Law Firm, your trusted ally in these challenging times. Call 800-707-0707 now.