Trucking Companies

Tesla Sued for Wrongful Death: What Does This Mean Legally?

Tesla has been in the headlines quite a bit lately, and sometimes for the wrong reasons.

Most recently, it came to light Tesla is being sued in a wrongful death lawsuit. The Levin Firm notes that every year in the U.S., nearly 1.3 million people die in accidents on the road. Unintentional injuries are the number three leading cause of death in the U.S.

So what does this mean for Tesla, and what is there to know about auto accidents and wrongful death lawsuits in general?

Tesla’s Autopilot Feature and Fatal Crashes

One family of the owner of a Tesla Model X filed a lawsuit against the car company in a California state court at the start of 2019, and now there’s another similar suit pending.

Most recently, Jeremy Banner’s family is asking for damages of more than $15,000 as the result of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Tesla. In Palm Beach County, Florida on March 1, a Model 3 that was on Autopilot crashed into a truck trailer crossing the highway.

The death of 50-year-old Banner sparked an investigation into the accident from the National Transportation Safety Board. In the previous case, filed after the death of Joshua Brown in California, the NHTSA opened a federal investigation into the Autopilot system from Tesla, and it was closed without any defect being found or any recalled issued.

With the most recent case, the NTSB described the accident in a now-released preliminary report. According to the report, the Tesla approached a private driveway, and the truck slowed while crossing southbound lanes, blocking the path of the Tesla. The Tesla then hit the left side of the semi-trailer. It took the roof of the Tesla off, and the vehicle was under the trailer before finally coming to a stop on a median.

The NTSB said based on preliminary findings, the Autopilot was turned on just a few seconds before the crash occurred.

The family’s attorney said the crash is the result of a defective Autopilot system.


However, on the other hand, Tesla has data showing from less than eight seconds before the crash occurred, to the time impact occurred, the driver’s hands weren’t detected on the steering wheel.

Earlier this year, Walter Huang’s family sought damages from Tesla because of perceived negligence. Huang was driving a Model X that had Autopilot engaged, and he hit a highway barrier in Mountain View California.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Death

Any case of a deadly car accident is tragic, and regardless of how the wrongful death cases turn out against Tesla, there are many of these situations that are filed in courts across the country every day.

So what is wrongful death?

A wrongful death is one that occurs when the death is the result of recklessness, negligence or violent behavior. The specific laws vary depending on the state where someone lives and where the death occurs.

Often wrongful death suits are filed in the case of car accidents because these accidents tend to stem from negligence or recklessness.

For example, distracted driving such as texting and driving, speeding, failure to stop, or driving while intoxicated are all situations that can lead to deadly vehicle accidents.

Not all wrongful death lawsuits are filed against people involved in the accident. In some cases, the lawsuits may be filed against trucking companies who have their drivers on the road for longer than they legally should, or for roads that aren’t well-maintained and can lead to an accident.

In 2015, there were 3,179 people killed in vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, and there were 431,000 injuries.

Defective Motor Vehicle Lawsuits

When someone is in an accident that leads to death, we often think about lawsuits involving another driver, but as is the situation with the Tesla cases, this isn’t always true.

There are what are generally referred to as motor vehicle defect cases.

These claims include passenger automobiles, as well as trucks, vans, motorcycles and other vehicles.

Unlike the case with personal injury lawsuits or wrongful death cases against the other driver, with defective motor vehicle lawsuits, you don’t have to show carelessness. You have to show liability.

While the Tesla cases are centered on the Autopilot function, defective motor vehicle lawsuits can stem from defects in pretty much any part of the vehicle. This can include the brake system, temperature control system, electrical system, steering and many other parts.

There have been recent increases in punitive damage awards because of vehicle liability cases as well. Punitive damages go beyond damages, and they can be tens of millions of dollars in some cases. Punitive damages are meant as a form of punishment to the manufacturer of the vehicle that will force them to fix the problems in their vehicles that led to the accident.

Are There Grounds for a Wrongful Death Case?

Every state is going to have different laws dictating whether or not the family of someone who died can bring forward a wrongful death case.

As an example, in Pennsylvania, if the accident was ruled the fault of your loved one by the officer who responds, you’re probably not going to be able to hold the other driver responsible. However, you may be able to get a partial settlement from an insurance company if your loved one was partially at fault.

Pennsylvania is a unique state in these situations because they have comparative fault laws. These laws dictate that your loved one’s fault in an accident is determined by a percentage. For example, maybe your loved one was found to be 40% at fault for the accident.

Then, that percentage is taken from the total damages award. If your loved one were more than 50% responsible, you probably wouldn’t receive compensation through a wrongful death settlement. Not all states have these laws, however.

Other factors that can play a role include the circumstances of the accident, how long it’s been since the accident and your relationship to the deceased person.

Top 5 Trucking Companies that Hire Felons

Felons face serious challenges in finding employment. A lot of companies practice strict reservations regarding recruitment of felons in their workforce. Now, that’s sad. As humans, we are flawed, and we tend to commit mistakes or crimes. But if someone has acknowledged his fault, has served the deserved sentence and now wants to start afresh- he or she should be given another chance. The good thing is the trucking industry do believe in helping felons to relive their life. Yes, you can earn your living as a truck driver even if you are a felon. There are some truck driving firms who have made a place for felons inside their workforce. While some of these firms follow certain conditions while recruiting, many of them are open for anyone. The only criterion for them is the job seeker should have the capacity and skill needed to be a good truck driver.

The post below sheds light on the top 5 trucking firms which recruit felons.

Boyd Bros Transportation


Headquartered at Clayton, Alabama, Boyd Bros is one of the most reliable names when you are looking for employment as a felon. The firm operates across the eastern 2/3rds of the US and is primarily engaged in the transportation of steel products and building materials.

It’s to note here, Boyd Bros recruits felons who carry convictions which are minimum five years old. Apart from this, the firm does not impose any other restriction on their potential recruits. The only thing required from a job seeker here is knowledge and experience of clean truck driving.

However, Boyd Bros is extremely particular about its values. All the employees of the company are expected to observe all the standards maintained by the company always. Boyd Bros commands a vast fleet which eventually means the greater scope of employment opportunities here. The firm has even made serious investments in advanced facilities to upgrade its services in recent times. Added to trucking, Boyd Bros is also into logistic services as well as relevant support services.

Barr-Nunn Transportation


Another viable employer for felons, Barr-Nunn Transportation, offers comfortable job opportunities or ex-convicts. The company is flexible to recruit felons who carry convictions which are minimum 7 years old. However, it’s to note here, Barr-Nunn needs its job seekers to hold minimum 12 months of professional experience as a truck driver to qualify for recruitment here.

The company is extremely careful about safety. It even extends safety bonuses to employees who maintain safety standards to the T. Then, the company also provides life insurance coverage to permanent drivers. Barr-Nunn pays weekly salaries to its truck drivers, and the payment is directly deposited into drivers’ accounts. With better pay, advanced machines, amazing bonuses and great working hours, Barr-Nunn is a much-coveted employer.

Roehl Transport

Roehl is another major name when a felon is looking for a job in the trucking industry. The company recruits felons who carry convictions which are minimum 7 years old. A great part about working with Roehl Transport is the provision of expert training for hired employees. The company also provides various other career development opportunities.

Roehl commands a huge fleet and hence can cater to a vast range of job seekers. It’s said that you will always find an opening in the company if you meet its criteria.

Apart from driving, Roehl Transport also operates in logistics services, including warehouse and cold storage. It even serves as a brokerage firm.

Swift Transportation

Swift Transportation is one of the biggest names in the USA trucking sector. The company hires felons who carry convictions which are minimum 10 years old. Akin to the previous option mentioned above, the firm extends drivers training to its recruits. It’s to stress here, Swift Transportation houses one among the broadest rosters of highly skilled drivers and a vast range of fleet.

Swift Transportation extends various including- Canada trips & services, flatbed, dry van as well as heavy-haul driving.

Hunt Transportation


A name of big repute across the American trucking scene, Hunt Transportation operates around the nation with offices all over North America. The firm hires felons who carry convictions which are minimum 10 years old. Additionally,  a potential job-seeker here should carry a minimum 12 years of professional experience as a truck driver.

Hunt Transportation mostly specializes in the flatbed trucking services. It offers weekly job openings for regional, national & home jobs. Employees love the company for its excellent job opportunities and highly maintained trucks that make driving even safer for them.

As a new driver, you will receive an orientation package that will help you to start your life afresh. In fact, Hunt is always a lucrative employer for its fat packages that carry lumpsum pays/mile.

The bottom line is you can still hope for a new lease of life despite being a felon.

See Comprehensive List of Trucking Companies That Hire Felons