Car Insurer May Sue Tesla

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SAN FRANCISCO — A Texas man said the Autopilot mode on his Tesla Model S sent him off the road and into a guardrail, bloodying his nose and shaking his confidence in the technology.

He doesn’t plan to sue the electric-car maker, but his insurance company might.

Mark Molthan, the driver, readily admits that he was not paying full attention. Trusting that Autopilot could handle the route as it had done before, he reached into the glove box to get a cloth and was cleaning the dashboard seconds before the collision, he said. The car failed to navigate a bend on Highway 175 in rural Kaufman, Texas, and struck a cable guardrail multiple times, according to the police report of the Aug. 7 crash.

“I used Autopilot all the time on that stretch of the highway,” Molthan, 44, said in a phone interview. “But now I feel like this is extremely dangerous. It gives you a false sense of security. I’m not ready to be a test pilot. It missed the curve and drove straight into the guardrail. The car didn’t stop – it actually continued to accelerate after the first impact into the guardrail.”

Molthan’s experience – while not as serious as a fatal crash that federal regulators are investigating – still highlights the challenges ahead in determining who is to blame when semi-autonomous vehicles are involved in accidents. Insurance claims involving Tesla’s Autopilot are largely uncharted territory, in part because driver behavior is still a contributing factor.

Cozen O’Connor, the law firm that represents Molthan’s auto-insurance carrier, a unit of Chubb Ltd., said it sent Tesla Motors Inc. a notice letter requesting joint inspection of the vehicle, which has been deemed a total loss.


Share Button


  1. I’ll never understand why people will trust computerized cars. My desktop computer can’t go more than a few days without some kind of error, so how in the world these God playing software engineers think they can compensate for a universe load of variables and conditions is beyond me. It’s as if they’ve never stepped outside of an office or classroom before.

    • Hi AJ,

      It’s the “omelette/eggs” thing… that’s their point of view. The control freaks, I mean. For them, the incidental damage caused is worth the greater good – as defined by them. Our good – as defined by us – being irrelevant to them.

  2. If Molthan wasn’t ready to be a test pilot, why did he buy such an experimental car anyway? Seems like this guy has some brain damage somewhere. And cleaning the dash while driving, how fucking stupid is that? Why wasn’t he playing pokemon go, in which he could have won a digital prize? Rational thought processes are completely absent in greenie driven idiots. Molthan idiot needs to lose his license in the quickest way possible, it is idiots like him who cause havoc on the roads.

    • to5, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend gave those people a tag that lives on to this day, East Texas Waterheads. She said one day “I swear to God these people are from another planet or another country at least. Texans just don’t act like this.”

      I couldn’t find fault with what she said. You see some strange creatures out there, the two legged kind.

      • Gotta catch ’em all, LOL.

        It’s optional to play Pokemon Go while you’re driving.

        It’s not optional to play “What Is The Law” while you’re driving.

        Both are equally distracting and debilitating to your safety and well-being.

        Fuck the written, Officer Vader enforced Empire law. Learn to be a Jedi Master of the Natural Law.

        • Pokemon starter pack

          It’s easy to see the flaws in millennial playing Pokemon.

          Less easy to see the flaws in you playing American.

          The millennial aren’t failing because they choose not to “play American.”

          They fail because they’re afraid to reject and play against “American Values” with every fiber of their being.

          Foreigners are able to come here and kick ass, because they aren’t hobble by the Great American Civil Religion.

          Founding Fathers. Gotta catch ’em all.

  3. I don’t understand how people trust their lives to software. No other technology in their existence works perfectly every time. Your phone, laptop, ipad, wireless router, tv, etc. all crash, freeze or fail at some point. Even computer-controlled production equipment freaks out occasionally. I’ve seen it. And that’s in a very static, controlled environment.

    The only safety features that matter are the driver’s brain and the maintenance done to the machine.

    While I despise insurance companies nearly as much as government and cronyists, this might be the only way to get to TM.

    • Yeti, I’m amazed about it too. Big rigs have an auto-shutdown feature. When the engine temp is far enough into the red it will shut it down or air pressure is so low the emergency stop buttons pop out and engage the brakes. I doubt though that the over-ride switch can do anything about the air pressure/brake problems since I’ve never used it but when your life depends on that rig not shutting down you can keep it going even though you may toast $20K worth of engine. I have been in many situations though that if shutdown were imminent I’d use that over-ride switch come hell or high water. I do know a friend had to use his over-ride the other day but was able to back out of it and save his over-heating engine. It was his truck so he has to suffer the consequences which turned out to be none…..except to back completely out of it and let it coast till the temp was down into the safe zone. He neither ruined his engine nor stopped in a place that could have been a real hazard for him and many others.

      The fact that so many people who don’t drive commercial vehicles don’t have a clue as to the consequences of stopping just anywhere means that all those who do know what they’re doing get dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. No over-ride for a four wheel vehicle so just shut up and get killed and be happy about it. It’s not like you were going to live forever anyway. The auto makers know what your life is worth and how many people each fault might kill figured into their bottom line anyway……and since Bushco passed a federal law to limit what your life is worth, it’s much easier to figure that bottom line.

      Now just shut up and quit bitching, Microsoft knows what’s best for you.

      • Eight, It’s actually kind of a testament to the inherent reliability of modern cars. People don’t have to plan because the cars don’t just stop. Even when there is a problem, many of them go into ‘limp mode’ so the owners can at least get them to a safe place.

        Your world is a totally different. We were just driving in the mountains out west and my kids were amazed at the runaway truck lanes. That has to be pretty damn scary to need one of those. You guys have my respect.

  4. My Cherokee came with “lane departure assist,” meaning it will steer itself back into the middle of the lane without intervention. Apparently the software engineers never heard of a racing line. For sure they must not drive in places where the road gets ruts and potholes in the middle of the lane.

    Thank goodness it has an off switch. Version 2.0 probably won’t.

    • Back in the 1990s microsoft word was programmed to do things its way. Not your way. Even when options existed it would often revert back to its way or fight the user. Now it seems everything is becoming like that. Oh you need something different? Too bad. It has to be something with software people. Some huge blind spot or arrogance or the limits they have to live in or something.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here