Tesla Airbags and Seatbelts Faulted for Brain Injuries Sustained During Crash

On June 25, 2020, a Maryland woman who suffered traumatic brain injuries in a 2019 accident sued Tesla Inc. in California alleging it manufactured an unsafe Model 3 vehicle with airbags that didn’t properly deploy. The suit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court in California where Tesla’s headquarters is located.

The suit stems from an accident, which occurred on July 1, 2019, on I-95 in Maryland. The collision was caused by another vehicle failing to maintain its lane, resulting in it striking the Plaintiffs’ Model 3 vehicle on the passenger side. The impact caused the Plaintiffs’ vehicle to crash into a guardrail before coming to rest on the median.

Despite the severe impact, none of the car’s airbags deployed and Edwards, a public-health professor at George Washington University in Washington who was wearing her seat belt, suffered major head trauma and other injuries. Her son in the back also was hurt, according to the suit.

The lawsuit alleges that Tesla designed and manufactured an “unreasonably dangerous” Model 3 vehicle with defective airbag and occupant restraint systems, despite Tesla’s widely publicized claims that it “engineered the Model 3 to be the safest car ever built.”

“The subject Model 3 did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected it to perform when used or misused in an intended or reasonably foreseeable way, including, but not limited to, its airbags not deploying and/or its front passenger seat belt not properly restraining plaintiff Kristian Edwards,” the suit said.

Tesla has boasted that the Model 3 “achieves the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]” and that “NHTSA’s data shows that vehicle occupants are less likely to get seriously hurt in crashes when in a Model 3 than in any other car,” according to the complaint.

The Plaintiffs contend the Model 3 had a number of defective or glitchy features, including faulty airbag sensors and supplemental restraint and passenger restraint systems. They’ve asserted various claims for strict liability, design defect, failure to warn, negligence and loss of consortium.

Alleged defects in Tesla’s Autopilot system have been blamed in several unrelated lawsuits for deaths and injuries, and the company has faced scrutiny of the technology by federal safety regulators. Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating premature failures of the large central touchscreen and the computer that powers it in Tesla’s Model S sedans.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a vehicle collision, contact the experienced attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner at (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.