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The Safest Car in America…Burns

In a video that went viral, a Tesla Model S electric car is shown engulfed in flames on a freeway off-ramp in Kent, Washington. Touted as the safest car in America, the company suffered negative publicity because of the video. The accident was caused when the car hit a curved piece of metal that fell from a semi-truck.

In this case, the driver of the car, Rob Carlson, was informed by his car’s safety system that he should exit the car after the accident.

After Mr. Carlson exited the car, fire broke out in the front battery compartment on the underside of the car because the steel plate protecting the lithium-ion battery was compromised by the road debris. Arriving firefighters put out the fire, only to have it stubbornly flame up again, requiring responders to tip the car on its side and cut open the battery pack to fully extinguish the blaze.

In responding, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk commented on his blog:

  • The car functioned as designed, the driver was not injured, and no flames reached the passenger compartment
  • Given the debris hit by the car, the fire was not as great as it would have been with a conventionally fueled car
  • A fire is more likely in a gasoline-powered car than a Tesla battery- powered car

Lithium-ion batteries burning in airplanes and overheating in laptops and mobile devices raise safety questions, as does the serious fire caused by the penetration of the car battery in this instance. Our firm represents clients who suffer injuries caused by accidents or defective products. Whether in a Tesla or other vehicle, if you are injured in a vehicle defective by design, seek skilled legal counsel in New York. Se habla español.

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