Tesla Inc. will defend itself in court for the first time against allegations that a malfunction of its Autopilot function led to a death. This is likely to be a serious test of Elon Musk’s claims about the technology, writes Reuters.

We are talking about two lawsuits. The first is scheduled for mid-September in a California state court. This is a civil lawsuit concerning the Model 3 accident in 2019. According to the accusations, the car drove off the highway east of Los Angeles at 65 mph, crashed into a palm tree, and burst into flames due to the autopilot system. And all this in a matter of seconds.

In that accident, the owner of the car, Mikey Lee, was killed and two of his passengers were seriously injured, including an 8-year-old boy. The plaintiffs accuse Tesla of knowing about the malfunction of the autopilot and other safety systems when it sold the car.

The second trial is scheduled for early October in a Florida court. It concerns a 2019 accident that occurred north of Miami. Then the Model 3 of owner Steven Banner was hit by a truck trailer that drove onto the road. According to the lawsuit filed by the wife of Steven Banner, who died in the incident, the autopilot failed to do anything to avoid the collision.

Meanwhile, Tesla denies responsibility for both accidents and claims driver error. The company assures that autopilot is safe when controlled by a human. In court documents, Tesla emphasized that drivers should pay attention to the road and keep their hands on the wheel.

Earlier it was reported that the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating reports that Tesla Model 3 and Model Y 2023 cars have steering problems. The administration received 12 complaints in which drivers reported losing control of the steering wheel and power steering while driving. According to the investigation, approximately 280 thousand cars may be affected.