Family of Tesla Model X Fatality Hires Law Firm, Plans to Sue

Above Tesla Showroom Chiswick London

Above Tesla Showroom Chiswick London

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board revoked Tesla's status as a party in its investigation because the company violated an agreement prohibiting the release of investigative information to the public before the completion of a final report on the crash.

In statement Thursday, Tesla accused the government agency of being "more concerned with press headlines than actually promoting safety".

This comes after the NTSB said it revoked Tesla's party status in the investigation regarding the fatal crash involving one of Tesla's Model X cars. The agency is investigating the crash of a Model X that was running with Autopilot engaged when it slammed into a highway divider in Northern California last month, killing the driver. While Tesla and the NTSB sparred over the disclosures, a lawyer representing Huang's family said the survivors would "explore legal options" following the fatality. Tesla has released a statement disputing that the call in question was testy in nature, and also explaining why it withdrew from the investigation.

"(Our) preliminary review indicates that the navigation system of the Tesla may have misread the lane lines on the roadway, failed to detect the concrete median, failed to brake the vehicle, and drove the auto into the median", Minami said.

"We made a decision to revoke Tesla's party status and informed Mr. Musk (Elon Musk, CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla) in a phone call last evening and via letter today", he added. Tesla claims it will file a complaint about the NTSB to Congress. Autopilot had warned the driver with both visual and audible notifications that he was to retake the wheel, Tesla said, having sifted through the car's logs from the time of the crash.

"However, we will not be sharing information about the findings with them", he said. Tesla said it wanted to "correct misleading claims that had been made about Autopilot". Tesla said it had made improvements in the system since the crash. Even if Tesla was, in fact, removed from the investigation, it wouldn't be unprecedented - Bloomberg notes that the feds have given other manufacturers the boot in the past for either making unauthorized statements or failing to provide sufficient information to the investigation. An NTSB spokesperson said the agency was "unhappy" with the company for disclosing details during the investigation. Tesla released its strongest statement yet blaming the driver, Walter Huang, for what happened, but his family and their new attorney are fighting back.

This driver also has Autopilot engaged, and you can see that the road markings disappear, which cause the vehicle to veer to the left, putting it on a path to crash into the center barrier.

In its statement Thursday, Tesla accused the NTSB of focusing on the "safest cars in America" while ignoring less-safe vehicles.

In February, Musk told analysts that Tesla is aiming for production capacity of 1 million Model Y vehicles per year.

The company confirmed one week later that Huang was using Autopilot during the crash, and that the data recorded showed that his hands were not detected on the wheel in the six seconds before the impact.

Musk has previously griped about the NTSB's involvement, saying it's up to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), not the NTSB, to regulate the auto industry.

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