Florida woman sues Tesla, blames door handles for husband’s death

File Photo by John G. Mabanglo

Oct. 25 (UPI) — A Florida woman sued Tesla for her husband’s death after his vehicle’s retractable door handles failed to extend following a crash, making it impossible for rescuers to reach him.

Liliana Awan filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the automaker on behalf of her husband, 48-year-old Dr. Omar Awan, stating that the vehicle’s handles failed to automatically extend from their retracted positions after his car caught on fire in a crash, preventing police from rescuing him.

“Fire engulfed the car and burned Dr. Awan beyond recognition — all because the Model S has inaccessible door handles, no other way to open the doors and an unreasonably dangerous fire risk,” the suit states.

The crash occurred on Feb. 24, when Omar Awan swerved through three lanes of traffic, hit a median and some trees, causing the car catch fire, according to a police report.

A police officer arrived at the scene almost immediately but was unable to open the doors, because they remained in their retracted positions while the car was engulfed in flames.

“After the Tesla hit the tree, he was alive. He had no internal injuries or broken bones. He died from smoke inhaled as he sat locked inside the Tesla, despite that a police officer and others were there and ready to help, until flames forced them away,” the suit states.

The automatically retractable door handles are a feature of the car’s design that cause them to withdraw flush to the door in order to create a “smooth, stylish line,” but they cannot be accessed manually, the suit states.

The suit states that Omar Awan’s Tesla was “defective and unreasonably dangerous” because the door handles couldn’t be operated after the crash and that Tesla was negligent for failing to warn him of the alleged defects.

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