Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys Comment on NHTSA Investigation of Tesla® Model S Fire Risk


April 28, 2014

Our Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys have followed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation into whether the high end Tesla® Model S presents a greater vehicle fire risk related to its electric battery system from underbody strikes. The NHTSA has issued a report following its four month investigation into safety concerns involving the luxury electric cars following two separate fires involving the vehicles. One of the vehicle fires occurred in a state neighboring Georgia. Although the federal safety investigation found no apparent defect trends, the vehicle manufacturer has agreed to address concerns about the risk of fire caused by objects below the vehicle impacting the vehicle’s batteries.

Although this blog often covers vehicle defects by manufacturers who are slow to address safety issues, we also recognize that sometimes corporations act responsibly. Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys commend the decision announced by Tesla® in a written statement by Testla Motors to modify the underside of its vehicle with a reinforced underbody shield to provide additional protection to the battery pack. The company has also agreed to retrofit vehicles that have already been sold with the safety feature.

This decision is a refreshing announcement against the backdrop of ongoing Congressional investigations into GM’s delay in modifying a faulty ignition switch that has been linked to thirteen fatalities. Documents disclosed during ongoing investigations by two Congressional committees, the NHTSA and the Department of Justice revealed that GM was aware of the defective ignition switch issue since early 2001, which was 4 years before the affected vehicles were sold to consumers according to Autoblog.com. Nonetheless, that defect has resulted in the recall of 2.5 million vehicles was largely unknown until February 2014. According to the NHSTA, the defective ignition switches can rotate out of the run position when vehicles hit a bump in the roadway and cause the power steering, power brakes and airbags to fail.

“I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program, but I can tell you that we will find out,” GM CEO Mary Barra said.

We can only hope that the intense focus of lawmakers and regulators on GM will provide motivation for other automakers to exercise responsible decision-making and go above and beyond the minimum required precautions to make vehicles safe for consumers.

Atlanta personal injury attorney David Montlick observed, “If GM had acted on the information it allegedly had regarding the ignition switch defect in 2001, there are more than a dozen families that might have avoided the painful loss associated with the death of a family member.”

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Category: Auto Accidents

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