Tesla is set for trial regarding the incident involving a two-year-old who crashed a Model X into his pregnant mother.

Mallory Harcourt and her family on the day they bought their Model X in 2018.

  • Tesla is facing trial regarding a negligence lawsuit filed by a mother whose toddler accidentally struck her with her Model X vehicle.
  • The California mother claims in her lawsuit that the 2018 Model X had a “defective” design.
  • Tesla has countered, asserting that the mother is at fault and highlighting that the Model X’s design likely prevented more severe injuries.

Tesla is currently facing a trial over a negligence lawsuit filed by a mother whose toddler accidentally struck her with her Model X vehicle, raising questions about the vehicle’s safety features and potential damages. The trial is taking place in a Santa Clara County courtroom, with opening statements expected to commence this week.

The mother alleges that the Tesla Model X had a defect.

In 2019, California mother Mallory Harcourt filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging negligence, consumer fraud, and product liability. Harcourt claims that her brand-new 2018 Model X SUV was “defective” in its design when her 2-year-old son managed to start the vehicle and hit her outside their Santa Barbara home on December 27, 2018.

According to the lawsuit, while eight months pregnant with her second child, the mother found herself pinned to a wall in her garage as the vehicle unexpectedly accelerated. Harcourt sustained broken bones and, approximately a week later, prematurely gave birth to her daughter due to a fractured pelvis, as detailed in court documents.

Mallory’s injuries have healed over time, but her suffering persists,” Harcourt’s legal team stated in an April 8 legal brief.

The attorneys emphasized, “It is unreasonable to expect a two-year-old, who climbed into the vehicle’s floorboard while it was parked with the parking brake engaged, to start the vehicle, shift it out of Park, and set it in motion. Such a scenario indicates a flaw in the vehicle’s design.

The Tesla’s Dashboard

During the trial, jurors will be informed by Harcourt’s legal representatives about how she and her husband opted for a Model X as their family vehicle after being influenced by advertisements claiming it to be the “safest, quickest, most capable SUV ever,” as outlined in the legal brief.

The unfortunate incident unfolded merely four days after the couple purchased the Model X, right after Harcourt arrived at their driveway with their son.

According to the brief, upon parking, the vehicle automatically engaged Park and set the parking brake. Harcourt then removed her son, identified as B.H., from his car seat, leaving the driver’s door open.

Realizing she had forgotten her house keys at the office, Harcourt found herself unable to enter the home, leading her to decide to change her son’s diaper in the garage.

At some point, the boy managed to “escape” from his mother and climbed into the vehicle’s footwell through the open door.

“He then contacted the brake pedal, which started the car and automatically closed the driver’s door. Seconds later, B.H. reached up and touched the gear shift lever on the stalk of the steering wheel, which shifted the car out of Park and into Drive,” the brief explains.

“B.H. then contacted the accelerator pedal, which caused the car to begin moving forward. From the time B.H. entered the Tesla until it began moving was mere seconds,” it continues.

As the Tesla entered the garage, Harcourt had “virtually no time to react,” the court filing states.

Attempting to evade the oncoming vehicle, she moved towards the front of the Tesla, hoping its technology would recognize her presence and stop the vehicle.

However, the Model X accelerated to over 8 miles per hour and struck Harcourt, lifting her off the ground and crushing her against bicycles and various clutter in the garage.

The impact resulted in multiple fractures to Mallory’s pelvis, a fractured fibula, and a deep puncture wound to her thigh. Fortunately, neighbors intervened to free her from the vehicle.

Tesla squarely attributes responsibility to the mother

Tesla contends in court documents that Harcourt bears full responsibility for the incident and asserts that the Model X’s design likely prevented more serious harm.

According to Tesla’s attorneys, evidence will demonstrate that Harcourt’s actions were the sole cause of her injuries, while the Model X’s advanced driver assistance features played a crucial role in mitigating the severity of the situation.

In their legal filings, Tesla’s lawyers argue that Harcourt acted negligently by leaving her toddler unattended in the driveway with access to the vehicle, allowing him to manipulate the controls.

They highlight Harcourt’s decision to intervene by stepping in front of the moving Model X as highly unusual and unnecessary, suggesting that the incident could have been avoided if proper supervision or the PIN-to-Drive option had been utilized.

Tesla’s attorneys emphasize that Harcourt’s injuries were the result of her own poor decisions, not any defect in the Model X’s design, reiterating that the vehicle functioned as intended.

They explain that the Model X’s safety features, such as the “Brake Override” and “Obstacle-Aware Acceleration,” were activated during the incident, limiting the SUV’s speed despite the toddler pressing the accelerator pedal.

Ultimately, Tesla’s legal team asserts that the Model X operated as designed and likely saved Harcourt’s life by preventing more serious injuries.

Tesla has encountered numerous lawsuits related to safety concerns.

Tesla has a history of facing legal action concerning safety issues, much like other automotive manufacturers. These lawsuits span a range of incidents, from battery fires to concerns about the effectiveness of Tesla’s driver assistance features.

In one case, a woman sued Tesla after her husband’s Model 3 reportedly exploded upon impact, resulting in his death. Additionally, in 2022, a Florida jury awarded $10.5 million to the families of two teenagers who died in a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S. The lawsuit attributed 1% of the blame to Tesla, alleging the company’s involvement in removing a speed limiter installed by the driver’s family.

Recently, Tesla settled a lawsuit linked to its Autopilot software after a crash resulting in a fatality. This settlement followed allegations that the car’s design was flawed.

In light of these incidents, Tesla has faced growing regulatory scrutiny regarding its driver-assist technology.


  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...