Heather P. Lommatzsch is seeking $300,000 in damages to cover the medical bills for the injuries sustained and the price of the car. She is alleging negligence and breach of warranty on Tesla’s part, and negligence on the service provider’s, which replaced a sensor on the car a month before the crash. She’s also claiming Autopilot didn’t engage before the crash, as neither did the brakes when she tried to use them.
Her claim is likely to win her anything in court, since the police report released after the accident, as well as the Tesla one, confirm that she was driving at high speeds with her hands off the wheel. She also repeatedly engaged and turned off Autosteer and Cruise Control functions, and wasn’t paying attention to the road, which means she braked the car when it was already too late - “fractions of a second” before the crash.
In fact, the woman admitted after the crash that she had been looking at her phone at the time she collided with the firetruck. It turns out she had been doing that intermittently for at least 2 minutes prior to the accident.
Contacted for comment, Tesla stands by its well-known recommendation: drivers should never take their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road when in Autopilot mode.
“When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times. Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents,” the statement reads.