Tesla Faces Lawsuit Following Fatal Model 3 Crash and Fire
A grieving widow has filed a lawsuit against Tesla after her husband's 2020 Model 3 crashed and subsequently exploded, leading to his tragic death. Jiyoung Yoon, the plaintiff, alleges that Tesla's involvement in designing, manufacturing, distributing, and selling the car in a "defective and unreasonably dangerous condition" directly caused the fatal outcome. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
Jyung Woo Hahn, aged 46, was driving his Tesla on the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Rockland County, New York, on March 12, 2022, when the vehicle malfunctioned, crashed into a tree, and immediately caught fire. Despite surviving the initial collision, Yoon claims her husband was trapped in the rapidly burning car. Images of the wreckage depict a charred vehicle shell.
First responders from Nanuet faced considerable challenges extinguishing the flames due to the car's lithium-ion battery igniting. The thermal runaway process occurred upon battery rupture, leading to a surge in temperature and pressure within the battery cells, along with the release of flammable gas. This gas can easily ignite from the high battery temperature, resulting in a fierce fire that emits toxic fumes. The extensive size and location of Tesla's batteries, spanning the vehicle's entire floor, exacerbate the fire's severity.
Firefighters expended over 1,000 gallons of water to control the blaze.
Yoon's lawsuit claims strict liability on Tesla's part for her husband's death. She alleges that Tesla produced a vehicle with defective design and manufacturing that lacked crashworthiness. The plaintiff also accuses Tesla of negligence and breach of implied warranty of merchantability.
In her legal pursuit, Yoon seeks a jury trial and demands compensation as per the law, including damages such as lost wages, emotional distress, punitive damages, and more.
Over the years, several Tesla crashes have led to fires due to the flammable properties of lithium-ion batteries. In recent incidents, a Tesla crashed into a home in New York, resulting in a fire that claimed two lives, while another Tesla burst into flames after crashing in a California elementary school parking lot.
As the legal process unfolds, questions remain about the broader implications for Tesla's vehicle safety and design, as well as the investigation into fires related to Tesla crashes by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).