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Lawsuit alleges Tesla door handle defect led to man's death

Tesla's electric cars get a lot of attention on Virginia streets with their sleek looks and forward-thinking technology. However, Teslas are also getting a lot of attention in the courts as plaintiffs allege that the vehicles' high-tech features are defective and dangerous.

One lawsuit filed recently in another state alleges that a man died after he crashed his Tesla and rescue workers could not open the car's doors to rescue him.

According to a wrongful death claim filed on behalf of the man's family, the man lost control of his car and smashed into a tree. The car's lithium battery caught on fire, filling the car's cabin with smoke. The lawsuit claims that when first responders arrived at the scene, the man appeared to be alive inside the crashed car, but was unable to get himself out. Rescue workers tried to help him, but could not open the vehicle's doors because their recessed door handles would not come out. Before they could break a window, the man was overcome with smoke.

Tesla's door handles are among the most striking features visible on the outside of the cars. When operating properly, they lie flush against the door, but protrude when someone comes to open the door. The lawsuit claims that this amounted to a dangerously defective design flaw because the handles can fail after an accident, hindering rescue efforts.

In a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff can hold manufacturers and others liable for damages caused by products that were defective in their design, manufacture or marketing. Many cases concentrate on design flaws. These cases require some technologically complex evidence, often delivered by expert witnesses who work in the relevant field. As such, these cases require a lot of preparation from experienced attorneys.

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