Last September, a Tesla Model 3 crash in Coral Gables, FL sparked a fireball that killed both of the car’s occupants. The car had been traveling at up to 90 mph before appearing to hit a bump and veer off the road. Now, the family of the car’s driver is suing Tesla, Tesla Florida, and an individual Tesla service manager over the car’s alleged faulty suspension.
The suit alleges that the Model 3 is “designed, assembled, and manufactured” with a suspension that can fail during normal use and that the car is “unreasonably dangerous” due to the suspension’s propensity for failure. It also alleges that a Tesla service manager, who inspected the car just four days before the crash, either didn’t notice or didn’t warn the car’s owner that the suspension was faulty — despite “controllability/steering, suspension, battery and electronic system, and an ability to open the doors” being the entire reason for the shop visit.
The suit also alleges that, due to these Model 3 suspension flaws, Tesla’s marketing about safety and handling is in direct contrast to the car’s actual state upon being delivered to a customer. In particular, Tesla’s “failing to adequately protect against fire and thermal runaway” was a direct cause of the death of the vehicle’s driver upon impact.
The police report from the crash does specify that the driver “lost control” of the Tesla before leaving the road, but doesn’t specify any suspension damage when discussing the car’s post-crash remains. Given the fire’s effect on the Model 3, it may be difficult (if not impossible) to determine whether the suspension failed before impact.
Video of the crash does appear to show the Tesla bottoming out over a bump in the road, spraying sparks up in its wake. Whether that’s enough to determine a suspension failure from a standard high-speed loss of control, however, is a question best left to the experts.