Tesla settles lawsuit over Autopilot crash that killed Apple engineer

The settlement avoids a jury trial months ahead of Tesla’s scheduled release of a self-driving taxi.

Tesla has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of an Apple engineer who was killed in a 2018 crash [Chris Carlson/AP]

Electric carmaker Tesla has settled a lawsuit brought by the family of an Apple engineer who was killed when his Model X swerved off a California highway while on autopilot.

Tesla settled with the family of Wei Lun Huang in the wrongful death suit they filed over the crash in Mountain View, California in 2018, court filings showed on Monday.

The settlement means that Tesla will avoid a jury trial that would have focused scrutiny on its self-driving technology months ahead of the scheduled launch of its self-driving Robotaxi in August.

The amount Tesla paid to settle the case was not disclosed in court documents after the company asked that it remain under seal.

Huang’s family filed a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit in 2019 accusing Tesla of liability due to exaggerated claims about the firm’s self-driving technology.

They argued that Tesla’s Autopilot feature was promoted in such a way as to make customers believe they did not have to remain alert when behind the wheel.

Tesla materials warn that its self-driving requires a “fully attentive driver” who can “take over at any moment”.

Tesla’s lawyers had argued Huang did not use the Autopilot system properly as he was playing a video game just before the accident.

A 2018 investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found both Tesla and Huang to be at fault in the crash.

Tesla faces at least one other lawsuit over a fatal crash in 2019 that involved its self-driving technology.

In November, Tesla convinced a jury that its self-driving technology was not responsible for a crash that killed a driver in Southern California in 2019.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a social media post in 2022 that his company would never settle in an “unjust case against us, even if we will probably lose”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies