A Steering Wheel Fell Off a Tesla While It Was Moving
The integrity of any product is paramount to consumer safety. When a product is unsafe, it can potentially cause injuries. Nowhere is product safety more important than in the automotive industry. A failure in even the smallest component can cause a car or truck to break down and potentially result in a multi-vehicle and catastrophic accident.
A recent article in The Drive caught a lot of people’s attention when they reported on a Twitter thread about a Tesla owner whose steering wheel detached while he was driving. At the end of January:
Twitter user @preneh24, who goes by the name Prerak, picked up their new Model Y. Prerak says that less than a week after taking delivery, the Model Y’s steering wheel suddenly fell off while driving on the highway, prompting the Tesla owner to post the experience on Twitter in order to tag CEO Elon Musk and several other prolific well-known accounts.
Now, this isn’t even the first time something like this has happened, per the publication:
Prerak’s experience isn’t unique. In fact, the same scenario happened in 2020 to a Tesla Model 3 owner whose steering wheel fell off less than a month into vehicle ownership. In both cases, it would appear that a similar failure occurred where the bolt holding the wheel to the steering column may have backed out—or, in the case of the 2020 incident, simply not have been installed. Either way, the steering wheel may have only been held in place by the airbag and wheel control harnesses when the failure occurred.
Tesla hasn’t commented on the issue, and Prerak was further dismayed to find the service center charged him for the repair. He went back to Twitter to discuss the fee, which was later removed by the service center.
What is product liability?
Product liability is a legal theory that holds manufacturers, distributors, and sellers responsible for the injuries or damages caused by the products they produce or sell. When a product is defective or dangerous, and it causes harm to a consumer, the manufacturer or seller of the product can be held liable for damages.
Three main types of product defects can result in product liability claims:
- Design defects. These defects occur when a product is inherently dangerous due to its design. For example, a car designed with a faulty fuel system will be prone to catch fire in an accident.
- Manufacturing defects. These defects occur when there is a mistake or problem during the manufacturing process that makes the product dangerous. For example, a bicycle with a defective brake system that’s not caught during quality control.
- Marketing defects. These defects occur when there is a failure to warn or provide adequate instructions for the safe use of a product. For example, a medication that doesn’t include a warning about potential side effects.
In a product liability case, the injured party must prove that the product was defective or dangerous and that the defect or danger caused the injury. If successful, the injured party can recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
In the case of the Tesla, the steering wheel issue could be either a design or manufacturing defect. Without comment from Tesla or a formal investigation, we may never really know. Per The Drive:
Tesla has not yet commented on the incident, but the company will likely face questions about the safety of its products and the steps it is taking to address the issue. This is not the first time that Tesla has faced questions about product safety; in fact, the company has been involved in several high-profile incidents in recent years, including
Prerak and his family were very lucky that day, as there were no vehicles directly behind him and he was able to slow down and stop his vehicle safely.
But what if the Tesla had gone out of control?
Imagine if he had not been so fortunate and encountered speeding traffic when the steering wheel suddenly came off his vehicle. It is possible that they would have been involved in a car accident, resulting in serious injuries for everyone involved.
If he sought out a skilled Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer to represent his case, an attorney could potentially rely on the theory of product liability to prove that Tesla, the manufacturer, was responsible for all injuries sustained in the accident. The lawyer would likely argue:
- The steering wheel had a defect, which made it impossible to control the car.
- This caused the accident that resulted in injuries.
- These injuries led to direct losses, like medical expenses and pain and suffering.
An experienced attorney would use evidence like the vehicle, the defective part, police reports, and medical records to present a strong case to the insurance company or the court.
At Yeboah Law Group, if you’ve been hurt in a car accident, we want to help. With our knowledge and expertise, we can help you navigate the complicated personal injury legal process, protect your rights, and fight for the compensation you deserve. To schedule a consultation, call our offices today or reach out via our contact form. With offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Key West, and Boca Raton, we’re committed to securing the best outcome for your case possible.