Big Rig & Tesla Who's Liable?

Who's Liable In This Fatality Involving A Big Rig Semi & Tesla On California 210?

A big rig semi tractor-trailer and semi-autonomous car (Tesla) were in a collision on California’s 210 Freeway near Fontana. According to officials investigating the crash it occurred on May 5th, 2021 in the early morning hours around 2:40 am. 

 

Tesla and Big Rig 210 Freeway Accident in the News
Tesla and Semi in fatal auto collision on 210 Freeway

California Highway Patrol indicates the specific location of the auto accident is near Citrus Avenue on the 210 Freeway. 

The semi-tractor-trailer and Tesla crash was not the result of an expected rear-end collision, nor did the personal injury didn’t occur between two moving vehicles.

Officials indicate the semi-truck overturned a few minutes before a Tesla motorist arrived on the scene.

Not One, But Two Accidents

The cause of how the big rig crashed and flipped to its side is still unknown.

Original reports seemed to indicate the truck driver and passerby were both standing on the 210 Freeway examining the crash when the Tesla hit the already overturned big rig. It was then the 35-year-old Tesla driver (Steven Hendrickson) could not avoid the truck and was pronounced dead at the scene. That part of the story remains true.

It was later learned the truck driver was injured while his truck overturned.  A passerby stopped to assist the driver out of his truck and both suffered injuries when motorist Steven Hendrickson in his white Tesla hit the overturned tractor-trailer. 

The Question Of Liabiity

The death of Mr. Hendrickson while driving his Tesla is the subject of our question. 

Who is liable for Steven Hendrickson's death?

Is The Tesla Driver The Sole Cause?

Normally, the truck driver would come under more scrutiny as the possible cause of Mr. Hendrickson’s death.

However. Due to the Tesla driver’s prior actions of demonstrating hands-free driving in videos on social media, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration questioned if Mr. Henderickson may not have been directly navigating his car.

Mr. Hendrickson was a member of a local Tesla Club where he demonstrated in an Instagram video himself piloting the very same car he died in with no hands on the steering column or feet on the accelerator or brakes. 

Self driving cars can choose between Radar and LiDAR technology in auto piloting
Tesla vehicles don't claim to be self-driving, but this driver may have been using an autonomous driving function.

Is Lack of LiDAR To Blame?

There are many avenues to approach blame. One could be the choice in how Tesla’s guidance system operates. Owner of Tesla, Elon Musk has refused to use LiDAR technology in guiding Tesla vehicles, opting for traditional radar and software instead.  Meanwhile, every other vehicle manufacturer and other entities using assisted vehicle guidance have committed to LiDAR technology. 

Is the Truck Driver At Fault?

One can speculate that regardless of any semi-autonomous driving assistance in the Tesla that had the truck driver not flipped over his semi on the 210 Freeway, the death of Mr. Hendrickson would not have ever occurred. 

This overturned tractor-trailer lead to a Tesla fatality on California's 210 Freeway
This overturned tractor-trailer lead to a Tesla fatality on California's 210 Freeway

In Conclusion

Litigating a case such as this requires accurate evidence. How officials label the cause is another important factor in pursuing damages for this injured in this auto accident. 

The minimum policy coverage of a commercial truck is $750,000.00

Large trucks generally cause catastrophic damage and their policy coverage requires a higher minimum. 

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