Do Cars Equipped with an Autopilot Feature Put Maine Drivers at Risk?

Recent video footage shows a troubling crash in which a Tesla car crashes into the top of an overturned truck laying on its side, according to one news article. The vehicle also failed to brake for the truck driver who was standing in the lane redirecting traffic. Thankfully, the truck driver jumped out of the way before he was struck. The driver of the Tesla stated that the car was in autopilot mode when the crash occurred. The driver did not manually brake until it was too late to avoid the collision. Those who are injured in a Maine car accident may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries they sustained in an accident.

Assuming that the autopilot was on, as it appeared, the footage raises questions of why the autopilot feature did not recognize a large obstacle in the road and why the car’s emergency braking system did not perceive the pedestrian. Even if autopilot was not on, the vehicle’s emergency braking and collision warning systems would not usually be off, unless it is manually disabled.

Although Tesla’s autopilot requires drivers to pay attention to the road at all times, it does not track their gaze, as some cars do. It is possible that the car failed to perceive the overturned truck because it was not used to seeing an overturned truck. But that does not explain why the vehicle failed to brake for the pedestrian. Tesla declined to comment on the article.

In Maine car accident cases, different types of damages may be available to successful plaintiffs. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate a plaintiff for injuries that are caused by the defendant’s wrongful actions. They are intended to compensate the plaintiff in order to make the plaintiff whole. In contrast, punitive damages are meant to punish unlawful conduct and to deter others from engaging in such conduct. Under Maine law, a court cannot award punitive damages unless a plaintiff is awarded compensatory damages. Common law punitive damages can only be awarded in Maine if a court concludes that a defendant acted with malice.

Compensatory damages are comprised of both economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to the damages typically for monetary expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages refer to non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship.

In Maine, there is a cap on non-economic damages. A change in the law in 2019 raised the cap for non-economic damages in wrongful death claims from $500,000 to $750,000. Although some raised concerns about insurance rates, many families who lost loved ones applauded the change. There is also a $250,000 cap on punitive damages.

Call a Maine Accident Attorney

If you have been seriously injured in a Maine car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The law firm of Peter Thompson & Associates has built its reputation on two decades of obtaining excellent results for our clients and treating them with the respect they deserve. We understand the physical and emotional toll that a car accident can have, and provide compassionate representation to clients across Maine, allowing them to focus on their recovery. For a free consultation, call the Maine car accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 or contact us online via our online form.

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