Family of California couple killed in crash sues Tesla

The family of a California couple who died in the crash of their Model S Tesla has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the carmaker. Mary Lou Seelandt, 66, and Karl Seelandt, 67, from Lompoc, died on July 6, 2022, when their 2015 Model S hit the back of a tractor-trailer rig at a Florida highway rest stop. The lawsuit alleges the car was defective and malfunctioned, although it does not specify the exact problem or whether the Autopilot function was in use at the time.

According to a reconstruction of the events, the tragedy happened in the early afternoon, on I-75, near Gainesville, Florida. The highway exit in question split into two lanes, one for cars and the other for trucks and buses. Somehow the couple’s Tesla ended up in the lane for larger vehicles, and its roof was crushed when the car became edged under the truck. The retired California couple was on a road trip that included a visit with family in Georgia to celebrate their granddaughter’s first birthday.

Tesla’s Autopilot system is under investigation from federal agencies. For now, 16 crashes in which the Autopilot system played a role have been included in the investigation, but several others may be added shortly. Last month, a California resident was killed when his Tesla struck the side of a firetruck in Walnut Creek. An investigation into the crash is still ongoing, but it is believed the car malfunctioned. 

When can you sue a carmaker?

A defective vehicle lawsuit typically involves a legal claim against a manufacturer or seller of a vehicle for producing or selling a defective product. You will need to talk to knowledgeable California accident lawyers who will help you file a defective vehicle lawsuit. To win such a case, the following elements must be present:

Duty of care: The plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care in designing, manufacturing, or selling the vehicle.

Breach of duty: The plaintiff must show that the defendant breached that duty of care by designing, manufacturing, or selling a vehicle that was defective or unreasonably dangerous.

Causation: The plaintiff must establish a causal connection between the defect and the harm suffered, showing that the defect caused the accident or injury.

Damages: The plaintiff must demonstrate that they have suffered damages as a result of the defect, which may include physical injuries, property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, or other economic or non-economic losses.

In addition, the plaintiff may need to prove that the defect was present at the time the vehicle left the manufacturer or seller’s control and that the plaintiff was using the vehicle in a reasonably foreseeable manner at the time of the accident or injury. Expert testimony may also be necessary to establish the defect and the causation element of the claim.

Have you been injured in a crash caused by a defective vehicle?

If you or a loved one were recently injured in a car accident in the Los Angeles area, contact the skilled attorneys at the Neumann Law Group. Our attorneys possess years of experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Through our dedicated representation of accident victims and their families, we will help you bring the at-fault driver to justice. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our toll-free number at 800-525-6386. To contact our California office, call 213-277-0001.

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