A Vancouver-area driver claims he kicked the window out of his almost brand-new Tesla Model Y to escape a dangerous vehicle fire after the car suddenly lost power and trapped him inside. According to reports, the battery caught fire, and he was unable to open the doors or the windows because the doors and windows auto-lock when the car loses power. The chief firefighter of the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services confirmed that the car did catch on fire. Although Teslas come equipped with a manual release near the window switches to open the door in case the car loses power, in the heat of the moment it can be hard to remember that when smoke is filling the cabin and you feel trapped.
The Unique Circumstances Of An Electric Vehicle Fire
Even though EVs catch fire less frequently than gas-powered cars, lithium-ion batteries can cause the fires to burn longer and be more intense. Most EV fires occur after an accident, much the same as for gas-powered cars, but incidents of Teslas bursting into flames for no reason or even while parked or charging continue to come to light in a troubling pattern.
In addition to this, the Tesla Model S has retractable door handles that only present themselves when they detect a key fob nearby. Although the car might look sleek and futuristic, without access to the door handles, rescuers can’t open the doors from the outside if a driver is trapped inside. This serious design flaw is especially dangerous if the car is on fire.
Unfortunately, the potential for Teslas to catch fire isn’t the only cause for concern. The autopilot system and the automatic driver-assistance feature, have been the reasons for numerous lawsuits for injuries and wrongful death claims.
How To Get Out Of A Burning Tesla
The problem with Tesla’s futuristic design is that the door handles only come out when they sense a key fob nearby. If the battery is on fire, or if the car battery is dead, it auto locks. This doesn’t allow the person inside to get out, and it doesn’t allow someone from the outside to help the person inside. If you’re ever locked into a Tesla and you need to get out, there is a manual release in the front seats. This release is just above the window buttons. You will need to pull up on the release and then open the door. You can see an in-depth tutorial here.
Tesla Wrongful Death Claims
One wrongful death suit claims Dr. Omar Awan was trapped in his Tesla and burned, due to being unable to open the doors. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one. An Ohio mother was killed when her Tesla caught fire in November 2021, and in October 2019, a teen was killed in a Tesla fire after a crash. It’s not just fire deaths that are catching heat. Tesla has been under the radar for quite some time after its autopilot feature failed, catapulting a man into a tractor-trailer. There have been numerous deaths due to Tesla’s autopilot feature, and yet, Tesla claims autopilot is still safe to use.
Tesla Denies Safety Issues Exist
Tesla argues that high-speed crashes can result in fires whether the car is powered by gasoline or batteries. They fail to acknowledge that the problem isn’t only that the car catches on fire. It’s that the people trapped inside can’t get out when it does. The other issue is that many of the car fires aren’t a result of a high-speed crash. The battery is inherently unstable, which means the cars are defective and dangerous. They can catch fire at any time. The problem with the door handles only compounds an already potentially dangerous issue. Tesla has not given any warning to car owners about these potentially dangerous conditions that can arise. They’ve also said that autopilot is safer than driving yourself, despite there being multiple deaths reported. And while they say their cars are safe, that hasn’t stopped them from recalling plenty of cars. In November 2021, Tesla recalled 12,000 cars to fix a braking problem that could cause safety issues. One month later in December 2021, they expanded the recall to encompass 458,000 cars for two mechanical defects. However, it didn’t stop there. In January of 2022, the rolling stop feature in Tesla cars was also recalled due to safety concerns, and legality concerns. Rolling stops are illegal in nearly every state. But Tesla told the regulator that rolling stops were allowed only at intersections when no cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists were detected, denying that it was a safety concern.
Instead, the company hails Tesla vehicles as having the best safety ratings of any car tested. But incidents of Tesla’s auto-driving assist feature driving the cars into oncoming traffic, mistaking railroad tracks for paved streets, and aiming themselves into metal posts and traffic barriers continue to pile up.
The auto-driving assist feature is, by any account, a marvelous innovation and certainly where the future of car manufacturing is headed. But adding a feature that isn’t airtight, that hasn’t been thoroughly tested, that involves potentially serious risks, including severe injury or death due to possible malfunctions, is inexcusable. The car fires add to an already dangerous brand of vehicles, and if something doesn’t change, more deaths will surely happen. Yet Tesla continues to ignore the National Transportation Safety Board’s safety recommendation for driver-assistance programs. Of the five companies they made the recommendations to, Tesla was the only one that didn’t respond.
Call an Orange County Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has gotten into an accident or incident involving a Tesla, you may be able to seek compensation. To get the full compensation that you’re entitled to, it’s important to use a dedicated Tesla fire personal injury attorney in Orange County. The Law Offices of Samer Habbas is here to help. Please call the Law Offices of Samer Habbas at (619) 626-2143 for a complimentary consultation.
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