ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y.–Jyung Hahn, a 46-year-old Cresskill, N.J., man tragically died March 12 after he lost control of a 2020 Tesla Model S on the Palisades Interstate Parkway and crashed.
Authorities said the Tesla was northbound near exit 10 when Hahn lost control of the vehicle at about 11:20 a.m. The vehicle left the roadway on the west shoulder, struck a tree, and became fully engulfed in flames.
Hahn was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
Officials initially believed that crash was weather-related, but Nanuet Fire Department investigators later said the battery of the Tesla ruptured. The battery spans the entire length and width of the car floor, which reportedly made it extremely difficult for firefighters to put out the flames.
Commentary on the fatal Tesla fire that claimed the life of Jyung Hahn
The advent of electric vehicles introduces a host of new legal issues. Most people have heard of, or are familiar with, product defect law. One of the most famous product defect cases involved the Ford Pinto. In that case, Ford designed and manufactured the Ford Pinto with a faulty gas tank. Ford knew that rear-end collisions would cause the gas tank to erupt into flames. Despite this knowledge, Ford continued production of the vehicle. This is only one instance of many where manufacturers designed and produced a product that was inherently dangerous.
While it is impossible to eliminate all risks from a product, manufacturers are charged with designing products that are free from unreasonable risk of harm. This often turns on whether the product could have been manufactured in a safer manner for a marginal increase in price. With the introduction of electric vehicles, a new area of product defect is emerging. The question that attorneys are now wrestling with is whether companies like Tesla failed to take adequate precautions to prevent accidents similar to this one from occurring.
The litigation process will play an important role in the evolution of the electric vehicle industry and keep manufacturers honest in their pursuit of profits. For those impacted by this accident, I extend my condolences and offer my prayers for your continued support during this difficult time of grief.
Disclaimer: Our firm uses this blog to start important conversations about consumer safety. Those impacted by this accident, or an accident like it, can reach out to our firm for further information or to have this article removed. This content should not be construed as legal counsel or advice.