Family Sues Tesla, Alleging Suspension Failed in Fatal Crash Last Year

  • The family of a 20-year-old killed in a Model 3 crash in September is suing Tesla for $30,000, alleging suspension failure.
  • The driver and a 19-year-old passenger died after the car veered off the road, crashed into two trees, and caught fire.
  • A preliminary NTSB report says data indicates the car was going as fast as 90 mph before the crash.

The family of a 20-year-old killed in a Tesla crash last year is suing the company over the fatal accident.

Last September, Nicholas Garcia and his 19-year-old passenger, Jazmin Alcala, died when the 2021 Tesla Model 3 they were traveling in veered off the road, crashed into two trees, and caught fire. The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to probe the south Florida crash.

A preliminary report from the agency says data indicated the car was going as fast as 90 miles per hour before it crashed; the accident took place in a residential area with a speed limit of 30 mph.

In the lawsuit, Garcia’s family alleges his Model 3 “had a defective and unreasonably dangerous suspension that may cause loss of control during ordinary and foreseeable driving conditions.” The lawsuit was filed in Florida state court earlier this month and previously reported by legal information aggregator Plainsite.

Garcia’s family is also suing the service manager of a Tesla Store where they say Garcia brought his car for inspection four days before the fatal crash due to issues with its “controllability/steering, suspension, battery and electronic system, and an ability to open the doors.”

The lawsuits accused the service manager of “negligently inspecting or failing to inspect the Subject Vehicle so that defects and dangerous conditions would be discovered.”

Garcia’s family is suing Tesla and the service manager for $30,000 each.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment immediately.

A police report published by Miami news station WPLG says Garcia sped up to beat a changing light, and the underbody of the Tesla scraped the road after hitting a “hump” in the middle of the intersection. He “lost control” of the vehicle, and it veered off the roadway, spinning into a collision with one tree first and then another, at which point the car became engulfed in flames, the report says.

In October, Tesla recalled nearly 2,800 vehicles over a potential suspension issue that could increase their risk of crashing. The recall included some Model Y vehicles built between March 2021 and June 2021 and some Model 3 vehicles built between January 2019 and April 2021.

Tesla has previously faced several other lawsuits from families of crash victims.

In 2019, the parents of an 18-year-old passenger killed in a Model S crash sued the company, saying a Tesla worker removed a speed limiter without the owner’s permission. A preliminary NTSB report on that incident said the vehicle was traveling at 116 mph around a curve when its driver tried to pass another car and lost control of the Tesla.

Last July, a family sued after a Tesla on Autopilot struck their vehicle, and their 15-year-old son, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected and killed.

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