The design of Tesla’s door handles is being blamed for the recent death of a Tesla driver who was unable to be rescued from his burning vehicle following a crash, according to a wrongful death lawsuit.
Bloomberg reports that the design of the door handles on Tesla’s Model S vehicles is being blamed for the recent death of a Tesla driver who was unable to be rescued from his burning car following a crash. The victim of the crash, which took place in February, was Omar Awan, a 48-year-old anesthesiologist who lost control of his vehicle in a south Florida parkway and collided with a palm tree according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Broward County.
According to the lawsuit, a police officer was unable to open the doors to Awan’s vehicle due to Tesla’s special retractable door handles. As a result, the officer and bystanders watched unable to do anything as the car filled with smoke and flames which the lawsuit alleges originated from the car’s battery. Tesla car door handles retract into the vehicle and pop out or “auto-present” as Tesla states when the vehicle’s key fob is detected nearby.
The lawsuit states: “Fire engulfed the car and burned Dr. Awan beyond recognition — all because the Model S has inaccessible door handles, no other way to open the doors, and an unreasonably dangerous fire risk.” The complaint lists smoke inhalation as the cause of Awan’s death and states that he had not sustained any internal injuries or broken bones in the initial crash.
The complaint alleges that Awan’s car continued to burn for hours and reignited several times even after firefighters had extinguished the flames. This is not the first time that a Tesla vehicle has burst into flames following a crash, in August a Tesla Model 3 vehicle burst into flames following a collision with a parked tow truck in Moscow.
Awan’s case is Awan v. Tesla Inc., 19-021110, Circuit Court of Broward County, Florida.