Tesla settles closely watched wrongful death lawsuit, averting trial

San Francisco, California - Tesla has settled with the family of an engineer killed when his Model X crashed in Silicon Valley six years ago, avoiding a trial, according to court filings Monday.

A Tesla Model X burns after crashing on US Highway 101 in Mountain View, California, on March 23, 2018.
A Tesla Model X burns after crashing on US Highway 101 in Mountain View, California, on March 23, 2018.  © S. Engleman/Handout via REUTERS

A jury trial was to start next week in a wrongful death suit that accused Tesla of not living up to its marketing when it came to driver-assistance and safety technology in its cars.

Court documents filed Monday said Tesla and the family of Wei Lun Huang had reached a settlement, and that Tesla is asking the amount involved remain under seal.

Huang believed that Model X technology would eliminate risk of harm to the driver "caused by the vehicle failing to drive at safe speeds, failing to operate only within marked travel lanes, failing to avoid other vehicles or obstacles while driving on highways, or accelerating into fixed objects or vehicles while in autopilot mode," the original complaint contended.

Huang was traveling along a highway in the California city of Mountain View in March of 2018 using an autopilot feature when the Model X drove into a concrete median, fatally injuring him, according to the lawsuit.

Tesla accused of negligence by family of crash victim

Huang's family argued in filings that Tesla was negligent and careless in building and marketing the 2017 Model X.

US regulators determined that Huang did not have his hands on the steering wheel at the time of the accident, despite alerts from the Autopilot driver assistance software to do so.

Tesla has stood by the safety of its cars and Autopilot features, which it has warned do not free drivers from paying attention.

Cover photo: Collage: S. Engleman/Handout via REUTERS

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