Tesla Settles Lawsuit Over Fatal Autopilot Crash of Apple Engineer

On the eve of a trial over the death of 38-year-old Apple engineer Walter Huang, who died in 2018 when his Model X hit a highway barrier, Tesla settled the lawsuit on Monday, Bloomberg reported.

The electric car company avoided what could have been a lengthy jury trial over its controversial automated-driving system and the role it may have played in the collision. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court filings.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board stated that the driver was “likely distracted by a gaming application on his cell phone before the crash,” while also citing the to “limitations” of Tesla’s Autopilot system. The report also found that Autopilot was “active” for almost 19 minutes before the fatal crash, when the vehicle accelerated to nearly 71 mph and hit the barrier.

In December 2023, two million Tesla vehicles were recalled following a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency found that the car models with the self-driving feature — including models Y, S, 3, and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7, 2023 — contain a high-risk software flaw that has likely contributed to an increase in wrecks and crashes.

While the company did not agree with NHTSA’s investigation findings, Tesla accepted the decision to recall in hopes of resolving the probe. In February that year, 360,000 Tesla vehicles with its Full Self-Driving Beta software were also recalled.


In a company blog post published on March 30, 2018, Tesla said that Huang had received “several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive” and that his hands were not detected on the steering wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. Tesla’s website states that while Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving Capability are “designed to become more capable over time, the currently enabled features do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

The Huang’s family also sued the state of California, per Bloomberg, alleging that the California’s transportation department failed to repair the barrier that had been damaged from a prior collision, and arguing that if it had been fixed, it might of absorbed the impact from the Model X crash and saved Walter’s life.